'Groundhog Day': Downtown businesses react to new work conditions

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Kilwin's Black Mountain to remain open during the pandemic.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Coming into work each day, accompanied by his children on spring break, Dave Teske said that he feels like each day and downtown have the atmosphere of Christmas or Thanksgiving.

“It feels like Groundhog Day,” Teske said. “I keep waiting for tomorrow to happen, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

Unlike restaurants that now restrict customers from coming inside, and instead allow only takeout or delivery orders, Kilwin’s has its doors open. Teske has placed a sign both outside and inside requesting customers to practice social distancing.

Even with his doors still open and the occasional flow of residents going downtown to pick up supplies, Teske said that sales are down 90%.

“You look outside and you wonder where is everybody, what are they doing?” Teske said. “Then the next day is exactly the same, exactly the same.”

Scott Counce, owner of the Merry Wine Market, said that despite being able to service customers, the current flow of income to the store creates challenges for personal finances.

“Three, four or five months down the road when things get back to normal, that's a huge number living overhead,” Counce said to his rent payments being deferred. “I'm doing everything I can to scrape things together, savings, college funds, whatever, just to make sure we're paying our bills.”

“Not only the store, but our personal bills, mortgage, everything as we go so that it doesn't become overwhelming.”

Counce said that while larger, big-box alcohol sales have gone up, his numbers have gone “significantly down.”

The Merry Wine Market, in addition to also keeping its doors open, now offers curbside service and delivery for prepaid products. Counce said that his employees, like Teske’s, have self-quarantined before returning to work.

Both Teske and Counce discussed their new cleaning routines and avoiding as much contact as possible, with Counce saying that he has gone through plenty of Lysol and antiseptic.

While both continue to serve customers, they both agree that days have started to blend in with each other.

“I don't even know what day it is,” Counce said. “I have no earthly idea of what day it is.”