Businesses Worry Online Sales May Not Be Enough To Sustain Them

May 4, 2020
Originally published on May 4, 2020 5:19 pm

Brian Galecki, owner of Dumb Records in downtown Springfield, normally sells records and CDs, but since the pandemic hit, he’s been selling t-shirts online. He said his online sales have been strong.

“A big challenge in that still is that even with us doing well, we’re still going to be less than what we would be doing if our physical store is open,” Galecki said.

A hefty chunk of his income came from using his space as a music venue, where he hosts live shows with bands from around the world. He also features local artists and bands.

With changes to the new stay-at-home order, more businesses in Springfield are able to offer online sales, and curbside pickup and delivery for customers.

But some, including Galecki, worry these sales still may not be enough to sustain them. They say they need to open up their doors to get their businesses back up and running. Galecki says he hopes to re-open his store this summer.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all but essential businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, to close on March 23, in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. He extended the order for another month last week, but loosened restrictions. The governor has said Illinois needs to see a declining number of new cases or hospitalizations for two weeks before the state can reopen.

Wild Rose, also in downtown Springfield, offers t-shirts, jewelry, and paintings by artists from Central Illinois. The owner, Monica Zanetti, said she is concerned about pulling in enough sales from the website to maintain her business and her artists.

“It was really scary when it all stopped,” she said. “And just even now thinking about it, what worries me is that is the website going to sustain that, are the artists going to stay with me?”

Zanetti took over the boutique in January, and says so far the website is doing okay, but she is looking forward to opening the boutique to customers again soon. She said during the pandemic, she is using social media to keep her name and business relevant.

When the shutdown began, Zanetti said her sales dropped to zero. And she didn’t qualify for any federal funding in the coronavirus relief package.

“These are the little micro businesses that are really suffering. We are not getting the support we need because we don’t fit in anywhere because we’re mom-and-pop stores.” Zanetti said. “If the community would support all mom and pop stores, that would be wonderful.”

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