While many businesses have suffered on the bottom line, Thomas Cremation and Funeral Service, located at 1297 Elmira St. in Athens Township, has not.
“I have been busy, but I’ve had only one COVID case,” said proprietor Denny Thomas. “It hasn’t really affected my business.”
Not only has the crisis not had an effect on his business, Thomas also said there were virtually no changes in his operation.
“In my business you always use universal precautions,” he said. “What’s really sad, the one case I did have, the person had to die in the nursing home by himself. It’s terrible.”
He also noted another situation in which he was involved.
“There was another one I helped a funeral home in Elmira with. They were residents in a nursing home. The husband passed. They let the family in. After the removal, the people had to leave and she’s there all by herself. No visitors and no input with what they were doing with the funeral. That’s really sad.”
On the other hand, he’s happy to see that Elderwood is past its crisis point.
“I see Elderwood is COVID free and that’s fantastic.”
It’s really not surprising that Thomas’ business isn’t feeling the strain, but Thomas knows how hard the COVID-19 crisis is hitting some local businesses.
“I feel sorry for the mom and pops,” he said. “Sometimes I just don’t think it’s right. You have Walmart open, Lowes open but I think the little guy can control who comes in and how many come in better.”
Ted Clark’s Busy Market, which allows 15 people in the store at any one time, came up in the conversation.
Mentioning Nocchi’s, Thomas said, “There’s another institution. He closed up right when this started.”
Thomas also put out a call for the Valley community to support local businesses.
“I hope everybody supports the local people,” he said. “I think people around here have been supporting the local places. You drive by McDonalds; you drive by Kentucky Fried Chicken and the drive throughs are full all the time. That’s a good sign, I guess, even those are national chains.
“I also feel sorry for people who just opened up a bar or a restaurant. I did take out from Mangilardo’s and they were busy during the take-out and I thought that was great. Still, it doesn’t take care of what their business is all about. I just hope they don’t shut it down again.”
Thomas noted that even the largest of local employers are not immune to the effects of the pandemic.
“Then you take a look at one of the biggest employers around, Guthrie just took a big hit and they said it’s permanent. That’s terrible, too. They shut it down and elective surgeries went out,” he said.
He mentioned that he knew people who had knee replacements scheduled who had to put those surgeries off.
“What are you going to do with those people?” It’s a bad situation. I just don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
None of us do, of course, but Thomas is hopeful that vaccines currently being developed will prove successful.
“I heard that there are a couple of companies who are in phase three of tests. Hopefully they’ll work.”
In the meantime, local businesses are keeping on keeping on and trying to get to the other side.
“Yanuzzi’s, Mangilardo’s, OIP — all these places — it’s a tough thing for them. I hope they hang on. They employ a lot of people.”