CASPER, Wyo. – Artisan Alley was doing well just a week ago.
There was no shortage of people making appointments for wine and painting dates, kids crafting activities and birthday parties.
It all came to a brutal halt after last Thursday, when the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc around the globe hit Wyoming.
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“People just flat out stopped coming in,” said owner Corinne Driscoll, “and for me that’s devastating news, because we’re a business that runs off of people.”
“So Sunday and Monday I cried my eyes out trying to figure out what I was going to do,” she said. “Then I thought, all of these people are really hurting right now, why not just give it away.”
What she’s giving away are her To Go Kits, which are a complete craft kits originally intended for people who stay home or don’t enjoy crowds.
“It has everything you need to do the project from start to finish” she said. “I just wish I had more resources to do more kits.”
Out of caution and for lack of business, Driscoll, who bought Artisan Alley two years ago, closed the store almost immediately.
This week she’s spent hours of her own time and with leftover resources to assemble 160 kits to give to the public. The only stipulations were to show up at noon and wait for the kits to be handed off outside at the back door.
She posted the giveaway on the shop’s Facebook page and it took off, and by noon Thursday a line of people extended from the back door and well into the alley.
“Hopefully people can give them to their kiddos and we can all weather the next three weeks,” she said.
Whitney Cassity waited outside for about 40 minutes to pick up bags for her four girls, ranging from age 2 to 8.
“Three days in and we’re good,” said Cassity, who is enjoying the extra unscheduled time with her children.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Cassity. “Amazing that people are taking the time to do this for the kids, and for our community.”
Driscoll is realistic about how mandatory closures and social distancing will affect hers and other small businesses in the community.
Hours after the giveaway, Wyoming governor Mark Gordon issued an order to close all non-essential public spaces in Wyoming.
“Honestly, the future of Artisan Alley is kind of uncertain, as it is for a lot of other businesses here in town,” she said. “Hopefully this passes sooner than later because I really love what I do.”
But for now, her focus is on her customers and her community.
“I would rather go out with a bang and have people remember that we did something to help, rather than slowly dying and disappearing.”
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.