Businesses make adjustments due to COVID-19

Lydia Urice
Podcast Editor

A family bikes by The Hub on a warm spring day. The Hub is closed to the public due the COVID-19 outbreak, and co-owner Alex Bischoff advised folks to “Stay safe” via email.

Businesses everywhere are being forced to make changes to everyday routines due to COVID-19.

The Novel Neighbor, a local business, is taking precautions to keep everyone safe.

“[We’re] not open to the public. [We have] less hours of ‘operation,’ now 10-4 Mon.-Sat. for answering phones and providing no contact curbside pick up and prepping items to ship,” owner Holland Saltsman, said over email.

Not only are business owners losing the ability to interact with customers, but they’re also losing money. 

“[We’re profiting] less as we are closed to the public, and all of our spring author events were canceled, which was catastrophic to our budget as all events have book sales,” Saltsman said over email.

“We sell a great deal more than just books, always have,” Saltsman said over email.

The Novel Neighbor sells everything from mystery boxes, puzzles, activity books and games for children at home to well, regular books. Also available are gift cards, monthly subscriptions, and merchandise such as T-shirts and handcrafted items made by local artists.

“[Information] is available on our website and we post updates via our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram,” Saltsman said over email.

The Hub, a local bike business, is making adjustments too.

“Our first adjustment was to send all of the employees home. We didn’t want them to feel obligated to keep coming in if they felt in danger of catching COVID-19. That left only the two business owners working, so shortening the hours made sense to do next. We went from being open 10 hours a day to just five hours a day,” Alex Bischoff, one of two co-owners of The Hub, said over email.

While the new adjustments allowed for greater safety for the people working and customers, and The Hub still offers online orders and curbside pickup, business is suffering.

“Overall business is down quite a bit. We do get a lot of phone calls every day, though. Many of them are from parents hoping to buy their kid(s) a bike, so they can stay more active during the school closure. We are happy to still be able to sell bikes on a curbside pickup basis.

Most of the other calls are from people who are riding during the virus crisis and need their bike repaired. Since we don’t have our repair staff in the shop, we have to put these people on a waiting list.” Bischoff said over email.

The Hub is still paying employees, despite telling them to stay home.

“We are profiting quite a bit less than usual. Our revenue is down because most people are staying home instead of riding, or because they are just too distracted by their own work and home problems to ride. At the same time, our costs are the same because we have decided to keep paying our staff during their time at home,” Bischoff said over email.

The Hub is doing everything it can to keep everything safe. It doesn’t allow anyone except the co-owners in, all bike repairs are postponed for the time being and all products are disinfected with rubbing alcohol before being released to customers.

“We feel confident in our own safety, and the safety of our customers,” Bischoff said over email.

Food businesses like Clover and The Bee and Olive and Oak have been forced to close doors completely.

“On March 15, we started doing carryout only, then on March 24, we closed our doors. [We’re] not sure when we will reopen but [we’re] eager to get back,” co-owner Rebecca Ortyl said over email.

Just like the Novel Neighbor and The Hub, Clover and The Bee and Olive and Oak are experiencing income losses.

“Profits were probably cut in half as soon as we closed our dining rooms for take-out only,” Ortyl said over email.

When Clover and The Bee and Olive and Oak were still offering pickup, there were many adjustments they had to make.

“It was a major shift in business to switch to just take out. Our customers’ needs were different as was how we operated internally. We were still extremely busy, with lines out of the doors originally, then eventually we had to just deliver to cars. Even then, there was tremendous demand,” Ortyl said over email.

Social distancing and health regulations are forcing local business owners to make changes to how they run their businesses and deal with customers. The changes they are making in order to keep everyone safe come at a cost, many are losing income and seeing little to no profit. 

“We’re all just trying to keep our businesses alive,” Saltsman said over email.

 


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