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Peoria’s small business adjust to the new reality

Local Peoria business One World sets up a safe food pick-up station for customers and workers. Photo via One World

For small businesses in Peoria, Illinois’ shelter-in-place order is forcing everyone to test their creativity when it comes to answering customers’ needs.

The rules and regulations of the order, mandating the closure of non-essential businesses and ordering citizens to remain at home whenever possible, are different for everyone, and all businesses have to adjust in whatever way they feel is best during this unprecedented time.

“We are thankful for the support of our community, it’s truly heartwarming,” Kristin Kern Snider, co-owner of Pink Sugar Boutique, said. “We are going to have a lot of catching up to do when we open up again!”

Clothing stores across the state have been instructed to shut their doors, but this hasn’t stopped shops like Pink Sugar Boutique from promoting their products. 

With extra social media advertising, Pink Sugar is trying its best to keep sales up through its online store. The store has been posting pictures modeling outfits and accessories on it’s Instagram. 

Restaurants in the community have also had to adjust to increasing amounts of businesses, offering delivery, curbside pickup and regular takeout. 

One World has been offering delivery through GrubHub, UberEats and DoorDash, but has recently adopted curbside pickup as their new normal to continue offering food and drink to their customers. 

One major change it has to make is the transformation of the bar and dining area into a staging area for staff to keep safe during their interactions with customers. 

Like other businesses, One World has increased its social media presence in an attempt to keep the restaurant in customers’ heads.

“Each day has brought new challenges and lessons,” Jessica McGhee, an employee at One World, said. “So each day we’re changing something for either safety reasons or customer service reasons … We’re grateful and we’re hopeful for the future.”

This is already a particularly busy time for Kelly Seed and Hardware Co., as planting season is fast approaching, but they have noticed a significant demand for seed this year. 

According to Nick Vespa, co-owner of the store, this is for two reasons: Farmers had a difficult growing season last year, so they have an increased need for repairing damaged fields; and COVID-19 has caused panic-buying. 

“People think they will have to grow their own food to supplement perceived shortage in the grocery stores,” Vespa said. 

The business has had an increase in online purchases, curbside pickups and people coming into the store. They, like many businesses, have limited the number of customers that can physically come in to practice social distancing and regularly wipe down everything from pens to counters. 

In order to combat financial issues during COVID-19, local businesses can apply for the relief through CARES Act, a federal relief package funded by the Small Business Administration. More information is available at https://data.greaterpeoria.us/cares-act/.

 

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