Shelby, Utica Businesses Face Struggle And Adjust Due To Pandemic
By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby – Utica News | Published June 8, 2020
SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — A lot has changed for everyone recently due to the coronavirus, including business owners who rely on their businesses for income.
On March 15, a state of emergency was declared, and many people did not want to risk going out of their homes to shop at local stores for their groceries; many turned to online shopping or shopped less than they did before the virus began. Many businesses were forced to close.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey done by the Small Business Association of Michigan, 87% of small businesses are anticipating a sales decline of at least 10%. The survey showed that sales and future profitability are the top concerns among small businesses.
SBAM President Brian Calley said that businesses that have been able to open are ready to resume business.
“Though the pandemic has been devastating for small business owners all across Michigan, they are incredibly resilient and have plans in place to protect customers and employees from the spread of COVID-19,” Calley said in a press release. “If given the chance, small businesses are ready to return to work and serve customers safely.”
Jeff Scheuer, the owner of Mattress To Go in Shelby Township, said his business remained open during the outbreak, and the owner saw the effects of the virus on his business.
“Overall, things were a little slower, but starting in May, we have been busier with customers. People still need to rest — sleep is essential, regardless of government classifications — and their restoration and the ability of acquiring good quality sleep to help maintain a strong immune system has never been more important than it is right now. Our suppliers are up and running, and we’re receiving everything we need,” he said via email.
He said that he’s coping with the effects of the pandemic as a business by staying positive and trying to continue the business as it was before the outbreak.
“Above all, we’re staying positive. We’re keeping our normal business hours and maintaining our normal stock of products. Our turnaround time on special orders is still only 1-2 weeks,” he said. “Without customers, I have no business, and like most small businesses, I need to stay open in order to support and feed my family. This is why it is so important for us to give back and support the local community that supports us.”
Scheuer said his business had started taking many more precautions to keep everyone safe.
“Following the CDC guidelines for store cleanliness hasn’t been an issue for us, as I’ve always been quite fastidious about keeping our store squeaky clean. We’ve simply increased the frequency of our cleaning, wiping down all hard surfaces and credit card terminals after each customer visit, and also using atomized spray for viruses on soft surfaces,” he said.
One important thing that they have also done to help the community is that he and his wife made 200 masks and gave them away for free at the store in April.
He said that a good way to support his business during this tough time is to come and shop whenever possible.
“Come in and let us help find a mattress or pillow that is appropriate for their specific needs. We’ve also brought in some new items the past month,” he said.
Jason Corbett, the owner of Magoo’s Pet Outlet in Utica, has seen a drastic change in sales revenue due to the pandemic, even though the business was still able to remain open.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we reduced our operating hours by four hours per day, saving on expenses due to loss of sales but remaining open for the community’s pet needs. While we remained open, we were and still are running at a 40% decrease in sales revenue. With Planet Fitness being closed, we have seen little to no traffic in our corridor of the plaza,” he said.
They also had to make changes to the way the business operated.
“We are social distancing with markings on our sales floor spaced 6 feet apart. We also installed face shields at the registers for contactless interaction,” he said.
A new service was created in hopes to make purchasing products easier for customers who would like to remain in their vehicles.
“We have integrated our website, utica.magoospet.com, to allow for payments to be made online for easy curbside pickup. This is a very costly process, but it is the future of retail,” he said.
The curbside service is available with one-hour windows for pickup and contactless payment.
“As we see more stimulus money being sent to Americans, we really need to think about businesses that we support at these times. Small business is the core of our economy, and we need to support them all during these tragic times. A staggering number of them will not make it out of this without the support of the community that the business resides in,” Corbett said.