Naava Koenigsberg, owner of Bear Creek Herbs, 604 N. Bullard St. in Silver City, has been struggling to stay afloat during the Covid epidemic.
“In the spring of 2020, when mandated public health COVID-19 restrictions were implemented across the country, we at Bear Creek Herbs made sure to let our state government know that our community counts on us for many of its vital healthcare needs,” she said. “We received essential status and have been able to remain open consistently.”
Koenigsberg said her company was fortunate to receive a grant from Silver City MainStreet to install Plexiglas sneeze guards and make other modifications to the shop.
“This allowed us to let customers into the front section of the store during the summer and early autumn,” she said.
In November, when the governor implemented a two-week lockdown, Bear Creek went back to doorway-only service.
“One of the major challenges we have encountered is the lack of availability of certain products,” Koenigsberg said. “We pride ourselves on the fact that over half of the herbs that we carry, and the majority of the overall items that we sell, are from local sources. We also prioritize purchasing American grown and manufactured products, yet we still rely on the worldwide herbal market to provide many of our ingredients.”
The market for herbal products has been especially volatile this past year, she said. Availability has been hampered by multiple factors including crop failures due to extreme weather events, manufacturing slowdowns due to rampant illness and lockdown restrictions, import and transportation restrictions, domestic distribution slowdowns, and increased worldwide demand.
“The upshot of all this is that we have fewer products available,” Koenigsberg said. “Prices have skyrocketed, and it can take up to two months to receive the items we order. We expect that the spotty inventory will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Koenigsberg said the store is adapting to the change in availability by learning more about the products they have access to.
“Rarely is there only one plant that can be used in a given situation,” she said. “Getting to spend more time in the garden has been one of the few joyful side-effects of the Covid situation.”
Her home garden and greenhouse have been converted from vegetable and herb production to almost exclusively medicinal and culinary herbs.
Silver City MainStreet is acknowledging downtown businesses that have persevered during the Covid pandemic with Downtown Silver City Strong awards, which Bear Creek Herbs has received one of. The awards are a way to say thank you to businesses that have worked hard to stay open and find new and creative ways to operate.
The mission of Silver City MainStreet is "To encourage a vibrant, historic downtown Silver City which is recognized as the heart of our diverse community." Info: www.silvercitymainstreet.com.
Charmeine Wait, is executive director of the Silver City MainStreet/Arts & Cultural District.