St. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and with a lull between Mardi Gras tomorrow and St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a good idea to get an idea of where things are “on the ground” with businesses in the county. To get a better idea of what’s happening now, I talked with Jamie Barger, the CEO of the Amador County Chamber of Commerce.

During the 2020 holiday season, the Chamber promoted a shop local campaign to get residents to buy locally. Though Barger doesn’t know how successful this effort was with all county businesses, she pointed to the results from Christmas Delights in Jackson as a good sign. “I know that the majority of merchants that participated in Christmas Delights this year saw an increase in sales over previous years,” she said. “There weren’t as many people in attendance, but people made a point to make purchases.”

Red In Practice

Though Barger said business conditions haven’t changed too much in the new year except for the switch to outdoor dining, she has noticed that more restaurants are opening for limited indoor dining. That is, even though Amador County is in the purple tier, the conditions on the ground suggest that county businesses are operating as if they are in the red tier.

Jamie BargerThough there is no concrete reason for doing so, Barger said reasons could include the weather being too cold to eat outside, more confidence in going out as more elderly residents are being vaccinated for COVID-19, and restaurants who have invested a lot into personal protective equipment (PPE) and need to offer indoor dining to survive.

Speaking of PPE, Barger said businesses are still requesting free PPE from the Chamber. If your business needs more PPE, you can contact the Chamber by e-mail to talk about what you need and set up an appointment to pick up your equipment. As far as current plans, she added, “I don’t have plans for another drive-through event until the weather starts to clear up.”

Despite falling case numbers, the pandemic still threatens businesses and their customers. More people are traveling up to the Sierra to enjoy the snow, and people went out to restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day. And there is news about more contagious variants of COVID-19 reported in California.

Main Street Jackson January 23 2021Some or all of these issues may result in higher cases starting in March. Despite these storm clouds on the horizon, Barger lauded the safety efforts of local businesses. “Business owners want to make sure their customers are being safe and keeping their businesses safe,” she said.

Staying Resilient

Barger noted that not only businesses were hit hard by the pandemic. “Non-profits saw a huge revenue decrease because of not being able to do events,” she said. For now, non-profits have adapted by holding virtual events such as the recent Take a Chance on Love Raffle presented by Hospice of Amador & Calaveras.

When will the event calendar get back to normal? “I believe a lot of events especially in summer and the second half of the year are being planned as if they will be allowed to happen with maybe some small adjustments depending on the regulations,” she said. “Everything is still so uncertain.”

With that in mind, Barger emphasized that businesses and customers need to continue to support each other as we transition from winter to spring. “I think businesses need to communicate with their customers,” she said. “Give your customers ideas for gifts. Get creative!”

What’s more, she said, “it is still important for people to know they need to be supporting our local businesses if we want them to stay in service. Every small purchase makes a huge difference.”

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