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Local businesses face impact of COVID-19

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  • Article Image Alt Text
    Joe Rutledge and his wife Michele stand outside of Gray Computers.
  • Local businesses face impact of COVID-19
    Logan Partin, owner of Logan’s Loft, inside of her boutique.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Smallville Hobby Store in Gray sells various games such as Magic the Gathering and much more.

Businesses around Jones County have been impacted and changed due to COVID-19. As some businesses resume to normal, others are taking things slow and seeing how everything plays out.

Gray Computers, owned by Joe Rutledge, provides a variety of services to people around Jones County to meet their IT needs. His business is located at 189 West Clinton Street, and he is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To reach staff, call 478-986-1213.

“We’re a family owned small town business that started 12 years ago, and we’ve been blessed to be supported by the community,” Rutledge said. “We’re happy to be here to help people with their computer and IT needs they may have.”

He said he moved locations right before the Coronavirus shutdown because the building he was in was too small. He said the new location just fell into his lap, and he doesn’t plan to move locations again.

“People in the community need us around for their technology needs. If they’re working from home, we’re here to help them with laptops, monitors, webcams, and things like that. I’m here to really provide people a service,” Rutledge said.

The tech shop owner said the hardest thing for him to get his hands on during COVID-19 was Clorox wipes. He said one of the dirtiest surfaces are keyboards and cell phone screens.

“The virus impacted us with store hours being shortened, and we did that out of responsibility,” he said. “We’ve been at about 75 percent for the past few months, so I’d say we have had some financial dips, but things are picking back up.”

Rutledge said he did a lot for students at the end of the school year by getting the Chromebooks ready and Zoom calls set up. He said he wanted to get the students ready to finish the school year at their homes the best way he knew how.

Another local business impacted by the virus was Logan’s Loft, run by Tammy and Logan Partin. The shop is located at 250 West Clinton Street in Suite 2, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Logan said she’s excited to be back after the pandemic.

“Logan’s Loft is a boutique clothing store for teenage girls and young women,” she said. “We sell winter and summer clothes mostly. We sell just about anything a girl is looking for, such as shoes, jewelry, tank tops and more.”

She said Logan’s Loft is important to Jones County because it keeps people shopping in town and brings people together within the community. She said it’s better for everyone to be able to only drive a short distance into the town to get what they need for a reasonable price.

“The Coronavirus impacted us a lot. We were closed for about two months or so, with no sales. We couldn’t sell any of our prom dresses since we didn’t have a prom. Right now we’re doing half-off sales to get rid of all our winter clothing,” Logan said.

The boutique owner said she feels other businesses have had a hard time bringing in income due to the virus, too. She said it’s been a difficult time for everyone, but hopes things will pick up soon for all the small businesses in town.

Smallville Hobby store, a local gaming store run by Matthew Billings, has been impacted by COVID-19 as well. The store is located at 133 James Street in Gray, and is open by appointment only. Billings can be reached at 478-457-4101, and said he looks forward to the business.

“Smallville is a board game and collectible store, and we have been a part of the community for a little over seven years now,” Billings said. “We like to show people options because there is a lot more out there besides Monopoly, Yahtzee!, and Scrabble.” He said Smallville

He said Smallville is important to Jones County because games like he has for purchase allow people to sit down together at the table and do something different. He said he has certain games that are helpful for critical thinking, math and language.

“The Coronavirus has definitely made an impact on Smallville because we were open three days a week, but now we are making appointments to meet people. Our main distributor was actually shut down for two months, so it was difficult to get products,” he said. The hobby store owner

The hobby store owner said things are looking up now, so he will see how things go from here. He said he plans to begin gathering in small numbers as things move forward to encourage social distancing.

“I think anywhere we gather in the community has been impacted by this,” the shop owner said. “It’s important for us to stay protected still and to keep distancing as we move ahead with summer plans. I think our entire community has seen some kind of effect.”