EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Don Elzer and his wife bought Sutherin Greenhouse near East Palestine five years ago. In that time, they’ve been well acquainted with adversity.
Elzer and his wife admit business is off about 40% from a year ago but are hoping things are about to turn around.
“We dealt with COVID. We dealt with supply shortages. We dealt with the economy dipping, but the train crash is certainly unique to us. It’s been different,” Elzer said. “Two weeks between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are when you make it or break it.”
To help attract more customers, the Elzers, who own other businesses in town are trying to think outside the box against their competition.
“This year, we got a little away from stuff that the bog store sell and a lot more unique stuff. We went to a lot of local vendors, and we have different things available,” Elzer said.
Business owners say the national attention the area received in the weeks following the train derailment may have helped get things cleaned up around town a bit faster but hasn’t done all that much to eliminate the stigma the area still has.
Elzer said wholesale accounts for nearly 70% of his business and even some of that has been affected.
“I think perception is such a big problem. We just need everyone to take a breath and stop in and see that things are OK. We’re all in business here. We’re all working,” Elzer said.
Something the Elzers indicate they plan to keep on doing.