It's a solemn, quiet ride these days through downtown Derry and beyond as numbers of travelers doing daily business has been thwarted by an unknown adversary causing business to slump and storefronts to close.

A popular diner, beauty salons, barber shops and gift stores are shuttered. A local staple of the season where lines would form right about now for ice cream and sundaes will only offer take-home versions of its former self for customers to enjoy.

Small businesses in Derry, Londonderry and Windham are feeling the serious side effects of the coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19, forcing businesses to close, or scale back operations while losing staff and struggling to stay afloat.

Since Gov. Chris Sununu's recent declaration of all non-essential businesses needing to close, those considered essential still keep doors open to offer food for pickup or delivery, services like landscaping and floral still operate, and some are morphing original ways of doing things into additional essential support for the community.

Downtown Derry distillery Doire is currently utilizing alcohol supplies to make hand sanitizer. The Tupelo Music Hall, shutting down performance operations for the time being, is working on serving up food and supplies for those in need.

Bud Evans, a longtime downtown business owner keeps his downtown Derry Feed and Supply open, offering pet and livestock needs, garden materials and much more.

With what's happening currently, Evans said he is one of the lucky ones.

"We are blessed," Evans said, "and fortunate to be able to stay open."

Evans said customers are very supportive, but are a little on edge, coming in with masks and safely keeping their distance.

The store does a lot of pickup and curbside delivery for various materials. Evans also stressed keeping the store as clean as possible is a must.

"Whatever it takes," Evans said. "We are trying to do what we can."

He added the store's springtime chick selection is very popular. About 100 more fluffy birds were expected this week.

"There's a big interest in chicks," he said, "and a lot of interest in gardening."

Eddie Leon of La Carreta restaurants said his Derry location remains closed due to some water issues, but other locations, including Londonderry, are offering pickup for customers.

"We've had a decent amount of takeout," he said. "We can't complain."

Leon added he has been able to retain about 20 employees to help keep the food business afloat.

Add in some community support and Leon is also reaching out to help others.

Recently, Leon and his restaurant, along with sponsor support, provided meals to senior citizens at the Londonderry Senior Center as well as providing food to other organizations like the Londonderry Lions Club, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry, the YMCA in Londonderry and the Derry Veterans Assistance Fund.

Londonderry's Senior Affairs Director Catherine Blash said it was a generous offer by Leon, as he also works hard with his own business while thinking of others.

Blash said seniors appreciated the help during these challenging times. She said the center is working hard to maintain connections safely and remotely.

"So far, everybody we speak with, they are doing well," she said. "We are trying to keep everybody together."

Derry Town Councilor Neil Wetherbee has lived in the community 19 years and said he is encouraged by how local businesses are reaching out to not only residents, but to each other.

He credited businesses like Studio Lab that hosted a St. Patrick's Day show featuring the band Dropkick Murphys and is now trying to refocus efforts to work with other groups and industries hoping to do events remotely.

Wetherbee also cited Leon, whose family suffered a home fire earlier this year but still reaches out to support communities by offering meals to those needing support.

"And Andy Day, (of Doire), also hurting business-wise, but sees a need for hand sanitizer and has an ability to fill that need and just jumps into action," Wetherbee said.

With so many people practicing random acts of kindness during this troubling time, Wetherbee said he has faith that no matter how tough, the community will bounce back.

"There's no doubt we are in for a touch stretch, but we really just need to shift our paradigms and try the best we can to refocus on what's really important," he said. I think Derry is already making that shift and that's going to continue."

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