Oxford businesses suffer financially from sudden closures

By Casey Brosokas

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local businesses have been modifying their daily routines to adhere to the emergency rules set by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

With most businesses in Oxford being independently owned and operated, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the correct next steps. The bars have shut down, and any location with the possibility of over 10 people being inside at once has closed. Salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors also have been ordered to close.

Many restaurants in Oxford are still finding ways to serve customers with carryout and delivery service, as allowed under the governor’s orders. The owner and operator of Skippers Pub and Top Deck, Andrew Amarantos, says they’re still doing phone calls and carryout orders for now. The same is true of all of the restaurants in Oxford that remain open.

Small businesses across the country have been suffering from the changes in schedule and lack of customers, but a greater concern is if businesses will be able to recover, or if the shutdowns will force them to go out of business permanently.  “We usually close for five days during spring break, but we are not sure if that will still be worth it,” Amarantos said. He said his business might as well keep serving food until he has to stop.

“We need to wait for guidance from Gov. DeWine,” said Kelli Riggs, president of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce. “This is a crazy time for everybody,” she said Thursday.

The City of Oxford has been working closely with the Butler County Small Business Development Center to form a plan for whatever is yet to come, according to Riggs. “The Butler County SBDC has been updating us so that we can continue to update our small businesses,” she said.

According to Riggs, small businesses in Oxford, under the effects of COVID-19, could potentially be receiving a “disaster loan.” This “disaster loan” would be distributed in order to keep the businesses afloat over the next coming months, she said.

While the next few months may not be the best for small business, or the economy of Oxford, there are people already focusing on what the plan is for when life returns to normal. Kim Daggy, executive director of Enjoy Oxford, the community’s local visitors bureau and destination development organization, is confident Oxford will bounce back.

“We always have a focus on bringing business to Oxford during our slow periods,” she said, noting all of the events the organization puts together for the community over the summer and winter while students are not in Oxford. “We always try to stay innovative,” she said.

Daggy pointed out that COVID-19 will affect tourism, but Enjoy Oxford is working on a plan to promote the city after this all passes.  For now, Daggy said she believes Oxford will brave the storm and come back better than ever by keeping people smart and informed.