Masks off. Doors open. Everywhere we turn, it’s “Open for Business” again.

Well, almost. Masks off, sometimes. Doors open, with precautions. We still see signs for occupancy limits, plus those ever-present bottles of sanitizer on counters or just when you step in the door.

Still, it’s undeniable. Everyone, it seems, everywhere, is getting back to business again.

Here at DMG, we took a break from this blog during the past year to focus on keeping ourselves and our families safe and helping our tenants survive.

Now, as we’re coming out of COVID, we’re thankful to be vaccinated and healthy, and we want to take a moment to acknowledge our Asheville area small-business tenants who have worked so hard to pull through these hard times.

The Only Constant Is Change

Of all that can be said about COVID, for small businesses the biggest was probably change. All businesses, especially small businesses, had to change in order to survive.

More than half of all Asheville business made big changes early on. According to the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, approximately half of small businesses responding to a mid-year COVID-19 Business Impact Survey in 2020 reported making significant changes to stay afloat. Over a fourth had changed their hours of operation, and 25 percent had modified their services, while another 25 percent had employees who were telecommuting.

The biggest hit for everybody happened early on. Between March and April of last year, Buncombe County lost 25,000 jobs – and a large number of those were in small businesses. Not surprisingly, restaurants were hit especially hard. Statewide, the Accommodation and Food Service industry saw a 41 percent job loss in one month.

But business owners are nothing if not adaptable.

Like small businesses everywhere, Asheville area businesses have adapted and changed since the pandemic began.  Many of those changes have cost money – a lot of our restaurants, for example, had to remodel. On top of the cost of lost revenue, many businesses had to spend more in order to make the changes that allowed them to stay open or re-open.

And many of these changes are likely to be permanent, or at least to stick around for a while. Some of the new outdoor restaurant spaces, for instance, are likely to stay.

But some changes might not be as permanent as first predicted. Office work, for example. While everyone talks about the work-from-home phenomenon changing the future of office work, here at DMG we’ve seen an uptick in office inquiries lately. Why? DMG owner Natalie Dierkes’s assessment is simple: “People are feeling squirrely,” she notes. “We’ve been pent up for over a year, and people are craving socialization.”

Looking Toward the Future

One change that will surely last: Business owners will be a bit more cautious. “I see the survivors saving more,” Dierkes said. “Smart businesses are getting better prepared for the unexpected.”

Fortunately, here at DMG Property Management, nearly all of our tenants were on solid footing before the pandemic hit. As a result they’ve been able to weather the storm. Some of DMG’s retail tenants, in fact, reported the best business they ever had in the months of October and November, even though many were open then by appointment only.

Now, as we head into summer, all DMG tenants are busy and thriving. And the housing market here, as everywhere, is booming. Employment numbers are creeping back up. And it looks like business might keep going strong.

“You could say resilience and adaptability are the keys to success,” Dierkes concludes. “Especially when it comes to getting through a pandemic.”

What has your business’s experience been like over the past year? We’ve love to hear your thoughts and comments in the section below. And if you’re exploring new office, retail, or commercial space in the Asheville area, check our current listings or reach out and get in touch.