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Norfolk business owners reflect on two years of operating during COVID-19

13News Now spoke with Norfolk business owners, who said they're keeping some pandemic-era adjustments in place and that they're hopeful for the years to come.

NORFOLK, Va. — In the last two years, COVID-19-related lockdowns, restrictions or mandates have changed nearly every aspect of our lives. 

Small business owners in Hampton Roads have felt the impacts, either by adjusting operations or in the worst cases, shutting down for good.

However, the ones who stayed afloat are still using the lesson they learned.

Along Colley Avenue in the Ghent section of Norfolk, 13News Now spoke with business owners who said they're keeping some pandemic changes in place and that they're hopeful for the years to come. 

"I think the idea of people passing by. They can't miss us, our sign is right here," said Heather Wynn, owner and operator of Strawberry Fields

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The smoothie and gelato spot took its business onto the sidewalk in the early stages of the pandemic.

Wynn said it's a pivot they had to make due to the size of the store. But they've seen big rewards, situated in what's typically a busy strip along Colley Avenue. 

"The to-go aspect of gelato is a big thing too," Wynn added. 

They're staying on the sidewalk for now and looking for ways to improve, "making the outdoor space more fun and interesting."

Across the street, handmade artisan gift shop Kitsch adjusted to the demand for online shopping at the onset of the pandemic.

One of the owners, Danielle Norris, told 13News Now their website will keep growing because of that. 

"I'm trying to build the website even more. With so many artists, it takes us a long time to get all of our products online, so just trying to figure out what we can put on there and what we can't."

RELATED: Local store, Kitsch, showcases artists for a good cause

Still, Norris said it's exciting to see more people comfortable going out and shopping in person. 

"A year ago, we had to have a line outside to keep capacity limits, people could only shop at certain times. If it looked too crowded, people would turn away. So, as things start to calm down a little bit, we're definitely having a lot of shoppers, a lot of people out and about on Colley Avenue," she added.

Nationwide, business owners and consumers still feeling the effects of pandemic-era challenges, like supply chain backlogs and staffing shortages.

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