Virus Diaries: Interest Rises for Interior Work, Jonesboro Designer Says

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of short features on small businesses responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Business is steady at Interiors By Design, though it’s been a victim of supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Owner MG Meyering. 

The business is also sewing masks for public use and selling them for $7 each. As of last week, 500-600 had been ordered.

Interiors by Design offers full interior design and contractor services, project management and organization consultation out of the Johnson-Sanderson mansion in downtown Jonesboro.

Meyering is self-employed, as are the subcontractors who do work for him.

He said houses, offices and more general contracting projects remain in progress. His industry hasn’t suffered as much as others because interior designers “aren’t necessarily around large crowds of people,” he explained.

Most of his job is talking to vendors over the phone or by email and meeting with one or two clients per day. Meyering is still meeting with clients, but following Centers for Disease Control guidelines while doing so.

Meyering said he’s been fielding phone calls from people asking about updating their kitchens, repainting walls and replacing floors or furniture. 

“They’re at their home all week long now, and they’re having to stay in that environment, and they’re finally realizing, ‘Wow, I really need to do something,’” Meyering surmised.

But doing business during the pandemic “hasn’t been without its moments of trepidation,” he continued

Interior by Design has put products on backorder for clients because plants have shut down due to an employee testing positive or for other coronavirus-related reasons. Shipping delays have caused projects “to not flow as smoothly as they have before,” he said. “And that’s probably my biggest challenge in trying to re-navigate those waters when so many unknowns are out there right now. And this is a virus that doesn’t seem to have a beginning date and an end date. … We’re treading water just like everybody else, but at least we’re in some water to tread. At least the pond is not dry.”

Meyering said he’s thankful for his loyal clients who understand the delays.

Meyering’s three contractors typically work 40 hours a week for him. They’ve been working less than that for a few weeks, he said, but their hours should return to normal because of upcoming jobs. He said the time of year was part of the reason for the reduction, but that the pandemic played a role in it as well. 

“When the pandemic first hit, I think there was so much uncertainty that everything just kind of closed down for a week or two. And then, once people realized, ‘Well, we’ve still got to work. We’ve still got to get this stuff done,’ then they were back at work again,” Meyering said. “So I think it was just a natural human reaction to something that we didn’t know, that we didn’t understand.”