New businesses open in Houston County during COVID-19 pandemic


Despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, some new businesses in Houston County are not just surviving, but they’re thriving.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses across the country to close up shop, but Houston County saw a fresh batch of new businesses open their doors from restaurants to entertainment spots.

“There was a small inkling of, ‘Should we open? Is this going to have a long-term effect,’” said Ashley James said.

She opened Mini Dixie Donuts on Watson Boulevard in April. At the time, she had big hopes for her mini donut business.

“Donuts for weddings, birthdays, office events, parties you name it,” she said.

Like many other businesses, the pandemic forced her to find a whole new strategy.

“We just try to improvise as much as possible,” she said. “We’ve also had to share supplies with other businesses. In the summer, we had a shortage on gloves.”

She says many local businesses in the area, old and new, chipped in to help each other any way they could.

“We’ve shared marketing techniques, we’ve shared things that are working, sales trends, things that didn’t work, that’s always a part of it,” James said.

At the end of the day, she says the key to keeping a business growing during a pandemic is community, not competition.

She adds the icing on the donut has been the community response. She says more and more customers are discovering all the local businesses Houston County has to offer and finding ways to support them.


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That’s something Robins Regional Chamber President April Bragg says she’s noticed too.

“It’s always been here, but when people think about Warner Robins specifically, they think, ‘Oh they’ve got all the chain restaurants, they’ve got the mall,’” said Bragg.

One tool she says helped change that mindset is a Facebook group called Robins To-Go. The chamber created it at the start of the pandemic as a way for people to share information about which businesses were open.

“And things like where to find toilet paper,” Bragg said.

That page has since grown to more than 17,000 members and taken on a new life.

“It empowered our community to feel like they had a way to contribute through all of this and not just by saying, ‘Yay, I supported Mini Dixie Donuts today,’ but telling why they love different businesses and actively asking for referrals,” she said.

Bragg says businesses needed a new way to reach customers during the pandemic and the Facebook page gave them a positive space to do it.

James says there are so many ways to support all of these local businesses, like buying gift cards to use later or give to friends and family. She says even something as simple as sharing a social media post to help get their name out in the community helps.


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