KANSAS CITY, Mo — It's been one year since the World Health Organizations first declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Since then, countless businesses across the Kansas City metro have closed. Others thought of new ways to stay open.
Andy Rieger, president of J. Rieger & Co., was approached early on in the pandemic by a nursing home in need of hand sanitizer. The company's distillery began making, distributing and donating thousand of gallons.
"General assistance to the public turned into something that people [who] could afford it from the public wanted to buy," Rieger said.
Companies' futures were uncertain. Business owners, like Rieger, began rationing their finances.
"The first two weeks — I've never cried more in my entire life," Rieger said. "It's like telling you, 'Hey, ration your food,' and you say, 'OK, for how long?' ... You have no idea."
While the pandemic has caused permanent damage to thousands of businesses, some businesses thrived.
Janelle Smart began a cleaning business out of her home shortly before the pandemic began. Smart Sanitizing Solutions serves both residential and commercial property owners.
"It was just the timing. I mean literally like synchronicity at its best," Smart said."It put us on a platform where we can educate people. We can provide resources and keep the community safe."
Smart said her clients wanted to be able to buy their own cleaning products, so she opened a brick and mortar store to sell the products in November — and business has been good.
As more people get vaccinated and restrictions begin to lift, Rieger said more people are coming into the distillery.
"Seeing those people come in, and seeing them want to come in and feeling comfortable coming in, is definitely something that you see in our locations," Rieger said. "What it really means is, it's something that's resonating throughout."