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Some Bismarck-Mandan businesses pick up, others slow down amid coronavirus outbreak

Some Bismarck-Mandan businesses pick up, others slow down amid coronavirus outbreak

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Dan Kraft's butcher shop started selling toilet paper on Monday.

"We had people asking for it," Kraft said on a busy afternoon at Butcher Block Meats in Mandan.

Local retailers have sold out of toilet paper in recent days as shoppers have cleared entire aisles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kraft said he's not advertising or pushing the TP, that it's available for nearby elderly residents who also can pick up milk, eggs and butter at his shop rather than go to a big grocery store.

"It's working out well for them, get all the basics covered," he said.

While Butcher Block Meats has seen a rush, other businesses in Bismarck-Mandan have temporarily closed or adjusted hours. Some restaurants have seen a drop in business but are offering alternatives to dining in, such as takeout and delivery.

Sales began to rise Saturday at Butcher Block, he said. The shop sold close to 2,000 pounds of ground beef -- nearly a ton -- on Monday.

Assorted meat bundles are selling well, too. So are beef roasts.

Kraft goes to work around 5 a.m. and the shop officially opens at 7:30 a.m., but he had a customer at 5:15 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

He expects the rush to continue as business might slow down at restaurants, leading more people to cook at home.

"People are stocking up the freezers," he said.

Kraft said he has received notice from his salesman that the next meat truck coming on Thursday is out of a number of products his shop wanted to order. 

Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Mandan has seen a little bit of a decline and some catering cancellations but is offering boxed lunch options, owner/operator Amanda Zachmeier said. 

The store is keeping clean and "constantly" wiping down door handles and tables, along with taking other precautionary measures such as providing serving meal kits rather than having open utensil kits, Zachmeier said. Her expertise as a physician assistant has helped from a health standpoint.

"We're going to remain open no matter what," she said. The store continues to cater and offers delivery options through DoorDash and Bite Squad.

Anima Cucina in downtown Bismarck saw a "noticeable drop" in business on Tuesday, owner Kenny Howard said. The cafe/restaurant/wine bar offers dine-in, takeout and curbside pickup, and recently developed a special family takeout menu that's available online.

"That's to try to meet the need of somebody who doesn't necessarily want to cook at home and they want to pick something up, we can prepare a more family style meal," Howard said.

"We'll do what we can as long as we can," he added.

Midway Lanes in Mandan closed Monday morning for a deep clean of the building, supervisor Trysten Climer said.

The bowling alley planned to reevaluate the situation on Friday, citing guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a sign outside.

Shift supervisor James Miller said the bowling alley's game room and chairs are part of the cleaning. One employee began scrubbing dividers between bowling lanes. Chairs were stacked on tables at every lane.

Eighteen Mandan businesses participated in Saturday's "Shamrock Shuffle" shopping event. Mandan Progress Organization Executive Director Dot Frank said her survey of participating businesses found that the coronavirus pandemic likely drove down attendance compared to expectations.

The small business event was planned well before the virus outbreak and CDC recommendations for canceling or postponing events with 10 or more people. 

"A lot of our businesses are smaller in scale, so at any given time we didn't have a crowd that exceeded the number that they're recommending we stay below," Frank said. "But I think that people are extra cautious in how they're spending their time and who they're out and about exposing themselves to."

The organization's April 1 membership meeting will include a U.S. Small Business Administration staff member speaking about resources for businesses financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, she said.

SBA Regional Administrator Dan Nordberg this week announced that the agency will be providing low-interest disaster loans to eligible small businesses and private nonprofits.

The virus outbreak has led some stores to temporarily close or adjust their hours at Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck.

Mall General Manager Jennifer Wilson said mall hours are remaining the same and mall tenants can decide "what's best for their customer and their employee."

At least eight stores in the mall have adjusted their hours, including J.C. Penney. At least eight more have temporarily closed, including Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. The mall has about 80 vendors.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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