Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Shannon Dowling, owner of River Fair Trade, said the support from the community is essential to the survival of local business. With everyone’s health and safety being a top priority to Dowling, she has been working on adjusting her inventory online, making it available for those not going out.
Small businesses in downtown Morgantown rely on the heavy foot traffic, the campus community and something that has been a major challenge is the large decrease in that.
“The foot traffic is down to almost a halt, and without any end in sight here for the rest of the semester, I think that’s going to be our biggest challenge,” Dowling said.
“The wonderful thing is this community has come together. Locals are still coming and supporting us and telling us that’s why they’re walking downtown,” Dowling said.
River Fair Trade has since changed their hours by closing at 5:30 p.m. instead of their normal 7 p.m. Going forward, Dowling said her and her two employees are prepared to take whatever precautions needed but keep business going.
“We’re working on figuring out ways to be able to provide the best customer service to our customers that we can during this time because as small businesses, that’s what we do best,” Dowling said.
“Every person that walks through our doors is important. And even if they can’t walk through our door, we still want them to know that they’re important…we will do what we can to get [what they want] that to them in the safest way possible.”
Dowling said that the small acts of kindness have been “overwhelming” in such a time of uncertainty.
“I’m just going to do what I can control, and I can continue to be here until it’s not safe to be, if that time comes and continue give the best customer service I can,” Dowling said. “We’ll do what we can while we can and hope that the community continues to support each other, which is what I’m seeing.”