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Several Local Businesses Talk About Being Forced to Close Their Storefronts or Reduce Hours

Mary Ruthless, owner of Foggy Pine Books

Elly Murray and Finn Halloran

In the past few weeks, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, several local businesses have been forced to close their storefronts or reduce their hours, out of concern for their customers’ safety.

Mary Ruthless, owner of Foggy Pine Books on King Street, has been a member of the Boone local business community since 2016. Her cozy bookstore has always been welcoming to students and locals alike, providing a safe atmosphere to curl up and enjoy a good book or gather with friends for one of their unique events.

However, she’s recently made the difficult choice to close down the store and switch to online or phone orders only.

“The impact has been overwhelmingly negative,” Ruthless said. “The local foot traffic and support of students and tourists was an essential part of our business model and we are genuinely struggling to figure out how to make it work without that support.”

Uijin Park, the owner and operator of Espresso News

Uijin Park, the owner and operator of Espresso News, has fortunately been able to keep his store open, due to it being under restaurant classification. However, without customers to come relax and enjoy a hot beverage in the once bustling coffee shop, Espresso News is struggling with sales.

“Devastatingly would be the best word,” Park said. “I’ll sit here for an hour or two with nobody.”

He commented on the student side of the virus response as well as the side of the businesses.

“It’s largely due to what’s happening, but our major customer base was the students, since we’re right on campus pretty much. Thankfully there’s no students in the sense of what needs to be done, but as far as economically it’s hurting pretty much all small businesses in downtown Boone.”

Bob Meier, of Doe Ridge Pottery with Nate Fields

Bob Meier, of Doe Ridge Pottery, has owned a pottery studio somewhere on King Street since 1988. He’s also had to close his store front, and the orders that he normally gets at this time of year have dried up.

“I’ve experienced downturns in my business before but this has gotta be by far the worst,” Meier said. “The only consolation is that I know everyone else is in the same boat.”

Entrance to F.A.R.M. Cafe

            F.A.R.M Cafe has also had to close their doors, but they have switched to doing more community outreach work in the meantime. Elena Dalton, the program director at F.A.R.M. Cafe explained that this aligns with the cafe’s mission of helping those who need it.

“Instead of offering takeout meals here at the cafe, and to serve our community while limiting our exposure, we are going to be sending meals out to organizations serving food insecure individuals,” Dalton said. “And we will offer our products on a donate-what-you-can basis.”

All of these businesses are trying their best to keep everyone safe during these uncertain times. However, at the expense of our safety, the virus might close down some of our local businesses, which are an important part of our community.

“We’re like a social hub for people to get together and have conversations or just get together,” Park said. “People are always smiling when they’re in here. It’s a happy place.”

Espresso News opened in 1994, and since then has become a haven for students and locals alike.

“We do have a lot of students but we also have a good amount of locals who have been coming here for twenty plus years,” Park said. “It’s like a second home for a lot of people.”

Ruthless certainly agrees that local businesses provide a joyful place for people to come together. However, she believes local businesses have a lot more to offer.

“We are the lifeblood of our community and having these spaces is what makes us unique,” Ruthless said. “Local businesses are the expression of the area, the personality of our town.”

Foggy Pine Books hosts many events throughout the year, designed to bring people together.

“We employ people in our community, donate to local charities, host free events and activities, offer spaces to meet friends or work, and so much more,” Ruthless said. “Local businesses make the place you live enjoyable and interesting.”

           Everyone seems a bit discouraged right now, as their businesses are struggling and some of them can’t open their stores to customers anymore. However, many of them are choosing to place their hopes in the goodwill of the community that they have served for so many years.

“I think any way that individuals can support local businesses financially, or by spreading the word on social media is going to help us all weather this storm and come back once this order is lifted,” Dalton said. “We are going to be accepting donations for our meals here on site. Visit the High Country Food Hub not only to support Farm Cafe but to support all the local producers and farmers who are being affected by this pandemic. That is a great way to keep our local economy going and to keep dollars here.”

In terms of supporting Espresso News, they have bags of coffee beans for sale on their website and gift certificates available on their Instagram.

“We’re mostly by the cup,” Park said. “I mean that’s where we have our numbers when people buy drinks.”

Doe Ridge Pottery is still working on getting their inventory online, but they should have that up and running within the next week. In the meantime, they have a few things for sale on Instagram and they are currently taking orders over the phone.

“We’ll sell somebody something and if they wanna come by and pick it up we’ll bag it up for them,” Meier said. “They’ll give us a credit card number over the phone and we’ll open the door and put it on the table or the ground and then they can just pick it up and walk away with it. So we can maintain that social distance that we’re all after”

Foggy Pine Books has many options for customers to help support them, and they are still offering a way to place orders online, via email, or through the phone. They’ll even deliver to your door for free, provided you live in their range.

“Gift cards are like small no interest loans and make great gifts for pretty much anything,” Ruthless said. “We also have a virtual tip & donation jar on our website, in case you don’t need anything to read but want to help. If you’d like a super fun way to help us out, buy a mystery box and let our talented booksellers handpick books just for you.”

Foggy Pine also has a way for audiobook listeners to get their fix via Libro.fm. And, if you switch over to Libro.fm from Audible, they’ll even give you free credits.

“If you can’t support financially, we could always use support on social media & our website,” Ruthless said. “Follow us, like, comment, and share our content, comment on and share our blog posts, and recommend us to your friends.”

            Now more than ever is the time to support local. Hopefully, if we can we all come out and show these local businesses that we appreciate all they’ve done for us, we can help our favorite businesses weather the storm and still be there in the future to bring us all together.


Support these local businesses by ordering products from them or donating!


Foggy Pine Books

            Phone: 828-386-1219

Email: orders@foggypinebooks.com

Online: https://foggypinebooks.indielite.org/

Audiobooks: https://libro.fm/?bookstore=foggypinebooks

Mystery box: http://www.foggypinebooks.com/store/p2/mysterybox.html

Tip jar: http://www.foggypinebooks.com/store/p1/tip-jar.html

Gift cards: https://foggypinebooks.indielite.org/foggy-pine-books-gift-card

F.A.R.M. Cafe

            Phone: 828-386-1000

Online: https://farmcafe.org/donate.html

Also, check out: https://www.highcountryfoodhub.org/

Espresso News

            Phone: 828-264-8850

            Online: https://espresso-news.myshopify.com/

            Instagram: espressonewsboone

            Location: 267 Howard St

Doe Ridge Pottery

            Phone: 828-264-1127

            Online: http://doeridgepottery.homestead.com/

            Instagram: doeridgepottery