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Visit Rogers Shares Experiences of Local Businesses as Northwest Arkansas Reopens

Posted by: Justin Freeman on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The last three months we have experienced business in a way that is unfamiliar. Businesses have altered daily operations, temporarily closed, and some have closed their doors permanently. Visit Rogers, a division of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, recently interviewed Rogers businesses from different industries with a purpose to uncover their recent experiences. We asked them to share what they have learned and how they are applying it to business moving forward. It’s only right that we continue to inspire each other to support our community and work towards the common goal of growing business.

NATURAL STATE BEER COMPANY
Visit Rogers: Kelly Parker & Luz Palmerin
Natural State Beer Company (NSBC): Kat Smith, VP of Social Media & Mark Smith, President

Tell us about Natural State Beer Company.
NSBC: Natural State Beer Company is a tasting room specializing in European lagers. Located right off Razorback Regional Greenway in Village on the Creeks, the view is spectacular with a patio overlooking the lake.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
NSBC: We had to pivot our business model and move to “to-go” orders and focus on retail sales of merchandise. We used social media as a platform to educate the community on our new way of doing business during this time. We have since opened the tasting room following all the directives for social distancing and capacity regulations set by the Governor. We would like to thank all the cyclists that brought in 90 percent of business from March through May.

What have you learned over this time?
NSBC: Think outside the box! We used our social media platform to spread the message of NSBC by incorporating more content especially videos to capture viewers’ attention. Being a newer brewery at the start of COVID-19, we had to work extra hard to spread our message and product. We worked in comradery with other local breweries in the area to support and promote one another.

Share a best business practice tip with us.
NSBC: Like we mentioned earlier, make videos and use to post to stories on your Instagram. This helps to engage your viewers and keep their attention when they scroll through stories. Also, think of creative ways to partner with other businesses. For example, we paired with Melanie Hewins at Imagine Studios for a “Paints & Pints” night. We plan to look at additional ways in the future to partner with other local businesses in our community as we get back to the new normal.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
NSBC: You can join our Mug Club! This yearly membership gets you the following: 20 oz. pour for the 16 oz. price, a stein, hat, access to beers released before the general public, invites to special events, and 15 percent off merchandise and beer to-go. We have also partnered with Big Sexy Food food truck. Order your burger outside, grab a beer inside, and Big Sexy will deliver once your order is ready. Don’t forget to take your “sunset selfie” on our patio and tag us in it!

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES
Visit Rogers: Kelly Parker
Fairfield Inn & Suites (FI): Mary Wood, General Manager

Tell us about the Fairfield Inn & Suites.
FI: We are a family-style hotel, laid-back and relaxing feel with 99 rooms on property. We are located right in the heart of restaurants row off the interstate.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
FI: We had to close the hotel for 70 days between March and June. This was tough because 99 percent of the staff was furloughed. Once the market picked back up, we were able to open again on June 5 and we are aiming to bring staff back to 100 percent in July.

What have you learned over this time?
FI: We had to learn to step outside of our comfort zones and change the daily practices we were used to each day. Every staff member has been trained step by step on the cleaning standards and the new safety practices that have been implemented. As a hotel, it made us stop and look at our place in the community and think about how we can help. We donated all the food at the hotel that would expire prior to the hotel opening back up in June to the food bank. On their own personal time, staff made masks that were donated to a local hospital and church and made sanitizer to donate to the police department.

Share a best business practice tip with us.
FI: Be patient and understand that things have changed. Change means different, but it does not have to be bad.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
FI: Remember to staycation and support your locals. Take a weekend and visit the hotels in your community and visit the restaurants and attractions you keep meaning to get to.

WAR EAGLE CAVERN
Visit Rogers: Kelly Parker & Luz Palmerin
War Eagle Cavern (WEC): Guy Schiavone, General Manager

Tell us about War Eagle Cavern.
WEC: War Eagle Cavern is Arkansas only lakeside cavern and has the largest natural setting entrance in the state. We offer a one-hour Traditional Tour, a three-hour Wild Tour, a Moonshiners Mystery Shack, a gift shop, and several hours of affordable family fun in a scenic outdoor setting with the possibility of seeing bats during a tour.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
WEC: Our season started the first weekend in March, and we remained open for two and a half weeks. After hearing the Governor order schools and some businesses to close, we made the decision to temporarily close as well. School trips were heavily affected. We were on pace to have a record year of 6,000 kids visiting for field trips during March, April, and May. In total we missed out on 7,000 - 8,000 visitors while being closed. After two months we decided to re-open just in time for Memorial Day weekend. We want to give folks something to go out and do for a while to forget everyday life and we plan for fall field trips to resume as usual.

What have you learned over this time?
WEC: Despite inconveniences people are being selfless and doing what is recommended to keep others comfortable and safe. We are doing our part by offering virtual field trip videos for the students that missed out this year. A typical field trip consists of hiking on our trails, gemstone panning, learning about the lake, caves, plants and wildlife first-hand, and managing finances while shopping in our giftshop. This experience is still possible through technology and social media has played a huge part in staying relevant and continuing to inspire not only kids but adults to stay active and get outdoors. Now that we are back to business, we are regularly sanitizing the gift shop and asking all guests to wear face coverings.

Share a best business practice tip with us.
WEC: Employees and guests are important to consider when making decisions and prioritizing their safety. If employees are enjoying themselves and feel secure it becomes a trickle effect to guests.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
WEC: A Traditional Tour is like seeing the tip of the iceberg where visitors get to see about half a mile of the four and a half miles of the cavern that have been explored and mapped. The Wild Tour is untouched territory and requires reservations. Visitors get to explore two miles of unconditioned passageway with no lights or walkways and the option of getting into some pretty tight spaces. Cavern tours depart all day long every thirty minutes seven days a week starting at 9:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. The last tour departs one hour before closing time at 5 p.m.

LAS PALMAS MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Visit Rogers: Kelly Parker
Las Palmas (LP): Cesar Reyes, General Manager

Tell us about Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant.
LP: We are located in downtown Rogers off 2nd Street just a block from the new Frisco Park renovation. We are a family-owned and operated business that opened in 1994 with several locations in Northwest Arkansas. Our Rogers location has a great patio and large indoor dining facility.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
LP: We had to close for three weeks beginning in March. We wanted to close to give our employees, their families, and our customers time to figure out the new normal and give us a chance to plan for moving forward with our operations in these uncertain times. We opened back up with curbside and takeout orders before opening back up in Phase 1 at 33 percent occupancy. Even though we have moved into Phase 2, we have stayed at Phase 1 right now. We are continuing to do curbside and takeout as well as operate at 33 percent in the dining room. Business has changed because guests are still leery of coming to eat inside of a restaurant, so we have seen a huge increase in our carryout and takeout orders. Face masks are required when coming into the building and can be removed when food or drink is served to the table.

What have you learned over this time?
LP: We have to work as a community to help get our numbers to decrease. Taking the proper safety precautions – wearing masks, washing hands, and staying six feet apart – will help us to get our businesses back open to 100 percent so that our community members can return to work. We are meeting the community where they are at by offering dine-in, carryout, or takeout.

Share a best business practice tip with us.
LP: Be flexible right now and remember that things are changing daily. Use social media to keep customers engaged about what you are offering. Most importantly, keep your employees and customers front of mind when it comes to safety.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
LP: We are very thankful for the continued support of our guests continuing to patron our restaurants. We will be here in downtown Rogers ready to welcome you when you are ready to visit. Don’t forget to support our local Rogers and Northwest Arkansas restaurants and businesses when you are able.

Visit Rogers invites you to explore our attractions, support a local shop, eat at that restaurant you’ve been meaning to, or have a staycation at a local hotel in Rogers to support your neighbors, friends, and the local economy. Support local businesses and explore Rogers while following the recommended CDC guidelines. For more information on planning a day or staycation in Rogers, visit www.visitrogersarkansas.com/things-to-do.

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