While parts of the community have begun to look like they did before COVID-19, small business owners in the Highlands Ranch Town Center are still feeling the burden of the pandemic.
“This is supposed to be our busy time,” said George Kavorkian, owner of Arts on Fire, from inside an empty store.
Kavorkian’s family-owned business has seen a slow increase in business since some restrictions related to the novel coronavirus lifted in April, but the store is still only operating at about 50%, he said.
“Things are super slow,” he said. “It has been extremely tough.”
Kavorkian, who has owned the business for the past six years, said his staff is sanitizing, spreading out tables and doing everything they can to help people feel safe. In order to stay afloat, Arts on Fire created a to-go option at their store allowing customers to take materials to paint their pottery home with them.
On a Wednesday afternoon in early October, the restaurant Old Blinking Light had a full patio of guests and some seated inside as well. Owner Earl Gonzales worried, however, that seasonal changes might set the business back.
At Old Blinking Light, which has been in Town Center for 14 years, management is thinking of ways to add to their space before the colder weather prevents people from sitting outside, Gonzales said.
“We feel the pressure of winter coming on,” he said. “We use the patio space so much, it has been key for us.”
While the restaurant is considering enclosing that space for the winter, such a move can be extremely costly.
Since the start of the pandemic, at least two businesses in Town Center have closed, including Timbuk Toys and Crave Real Burgers.
“Everyone’s doing what they can to survive,” Gonzales said.
Kavorkian said he hopes things pick up soon as the holidays draw near.
“Please come and help us,” Kavorkian said. “If you don’t go to a small business, they don’t exist. It’s that simple.”
Leah Rosine, owner of Abloom flower shop, said her staff has been delighted to see more foot traffic throughout Town Center, which is located on the south side of Highlands Ranch Parkway, west of Broadway.
“There was a time when it seemed like a ghost town,” she said. “Now there’s a sense of normality.”
Throughout the pandemic, Abloom has been largely supported by the local community and by folks hoping to brighten their loved ones' days, Rosine said.
“There’s been some really heartwarming things that we’ve been able to be a part of,” she said. “We are so grateful for their support and their willingness to support local business.”
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