Back 40 Junction, Kiss My Grass Soapery talk rebounding from pandemic business struggles

FORT WAYNE/DECATUR, Ind. (WANE) — Throughout the pandemic businesses have shared their struggles to get by while implementing the pandemic restrictions. For some businesses, the answer to their problem was changing their process.

Pre-pandemic, Kiss My Grass Soapery owner Amy Delap sold most of her soap and body products through trade shows and farmers’ markets but that all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year.

“The shows all dried up, we couldn’t teach either, so we were pretty much relying on online sales,” said Delap.

Delap relayed her struggles on social media and said her customer base stepped up. Online sales of her products boomed, but it still was not enough to keep her business afloat. So, she switched up her plan.

“Our plans were to open a store within a couple of years but we just kind of speeded up the process,” said Delap.

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She opened up a store at 1636 W. Main Street in Fort Wayne towards the end of September. It was a move she said has paid off, in part because it is located in an up-and-coming area.

“We’ve had people coming in steadily on our open days and even contacting me when we’re not open and asking to come in to shop, which we’re happy to do,” said Delap.

In Decatur, popular buffet restaurant Back 40 Junction was shut down completely because of COVID-19 and its owners, Azar Corporation, decided to try and sell the business. Its future remained unknown for months, with some worries it may never reopen. After seven months, former Azar Corp. District Manager John Ferrise was able to buy the buffet and make it his own.

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Back 40 Junction is set to open November 4, and in the meantime, Ferrise has been making changes to better fit COVID-19 restrictions. He plans on trading the buffet line for a more traditional sit-down experience and is adding curbside service. They will have to cut down on seating to comply with social distancing but be able to keep a good amount of seating thanks to their square footage. Despite the changes, he said the Back 40 experience will be largely unchanged. They will continue using the same menu and recipes that customers are familiar with and have added extra artifacts to their wall of treasures.

According to Ferrise, much of the old staff is returning as well and he is hopeful the buzz their reopening has generated online is a good indication of Back’s 40’s future.

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“The call for us to reopen, people just wanted to get that Back 40 fix and can’t wait to just get the doors opened up again,” said Ferrise.

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