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How small-spaced businesses are coping amid COVID-19

Kayla Anderson
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Susie Scoops ice cream shop in Incline Village.
Kayla Anderson / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Social distancing from employees and other customers can be challenging in the COVID-19 era for businesses in small square footage spaces and it depends on the type of business on whether keeping six feet away from each other is possible or not.

Here are two small businesses in small spaces and what they are doing to adapt to the new social distancing rules.

Dog.Dog.Cat., South Lake Tahoe

Tucked into a 1,276-square-foot space at 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd., filled with dog toys, pet food, travel gear and more, Dog.Dog.Cat. pet store owner George Richter is open to the public. However, keeping a 6-foot distance between people poses a big challenge.

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“We tried to encourage people to do curbside pickup and kept our doors locked,” Richter said about the first few weeks of operations during COVID-19.

Then about three weeks ago, Dog.Dog.Cat. opened its doors to the public yet shortened its hours and implemented a more rigorous cleaning process.

When asked how people stay six feet apart from each other in such a small space, Richter says, “There are physical limitations with that question of social distancing unless they’re in here by themselves.”

The bigger problem, he says, is that the general public has mixed feelings about new safety protocols coming into play. Some customers go about their way like everything is normal and taking no precautions whatsoever which can pose a threat to other customers and employees.

Richter says that Dog.Dog.Cat. needs to be open in order to stay in business and it’s slow enough to be manageable, but each weekend presents a new situation.

“Fortunately, 70% of the people coming in are regulars,” he said. “And I appreciate the people who are concerned about others, thankful that we’re available, and cautious while in here.”

He hopes that people who visit Dog.Dog.Cat. or other open businesses (especially in small spaces) understand that there are vulnerable people who can severely be affected from a COVID carrier displaying no symptoms and be considerate of those around them.

Richter is a bit concerned about people who don’t take the pandemic seriously because he is the only one working. Dog.Dog.Cat. 100% supports his family so he doesn’t know what would happen if he were to contract the virus.

Personally, Richter says that he’s doing what he can to keep people safe and implemented a cleaning regiment that goes above and beyond what they normally do.

“I always wear a mask and it’s challenging to wear it because a mask kind of restricts your breathing, but I have to err to the most vulnerable and respect that,” Richter said.

Dog.Dog.Cat. is offering curbside pickup, local home delivery, and free shipping options; visit http://www.dogdogcat.com for updated information.

Susie Scoops, Incline Village

Over in a small 400-square-foot space right on the main road in the middle of Incline Village, Susie Scoops Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt has stayed open throughout COVID-19 and even though they are in a small space, the nature of their ice cream business has allowed them to thrive.

“We never closed. We did offer curbside service but now we’re fully open,” said Susie Scoops Owner Blake Goldenberg.

He explains that it depends on the time of the year on how busy they are more so than the effects of COVID-19. When the weather’s nice, people tend to sit outside on the patio to enjoy their cool treats. Susie Scoops does have one table inside, but most people come in, order their flavors, and take it to go.

“This (pandemic) hasn’t changed our business much,” he said. “Ice cream is predominantly to go anyways, and we serve it in disposable containers. Most people drive in and take their ice cream to enjoy in their car as they go around the lake.”

Susie Scoops hasn’t really adjusted its hours of operation either, except shortening its hours in the wintertime like normal.

“People have a notion that they can only eat ice cream in the summer, but we believe you can enjoy ice cream year-round,” Goldberg said. “That has nothing to do with COVID, though.”

Next to Susie Scoops is another small 500-square-foot business owned by Goldenberg that has also been doing well in these unprecedented times.

“We offer curbside pickup for Village Toys, too,” he said. “We have lots of jigsaw puzzles and games. Business has been fairly consistent because we have what people are looking for. Online prices for puzzles and stay-at-home activities are outrageous right now; we haven’t adjusted our prices and we offer a locals’ discount, so in this case it makes more sense to shop local. We’re very accommodating, we help out the locals that try to help us. Both businesses are surviving the quarantine and we’re looking forward to summer.”


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