Running a business in a pandemic

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photo courtesy of Instagram @comicbookhideout

Glynnes Speak is the owner of Comic Book Hideout in downtown Fullerton.

Have your shopping habits changed during the pandemic?

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With COVID-19 keeping us socially distant since early March, many of us have rethought the way we shop.

Students at Middle College have noticed the difference in how they shop too.

Because of the pandemic, buying items in stores has changed the experience for shoppers and for the store owners. 

The pandemic has made shoppers more conscious of their surroundings while shopping.

Sophomore Roselinh Crowe says, “COVID-19 definitely changed how I shop. I don’t go in lanes that have people there and I don’t touch things unless I’m going to buy it.”  

As well as having effects on consumers, COVID-19 has had major effects on businesses and business owners. Now 79% of small businesses are fully open or partially open. Most businesses that are open do a lot to ensure the safety of their customers. 

Julie Rasmussen, owner of Roadkill Ranch boutique in downtown Fullerton, wears a mask as she greets customers. Photo courtesy of Instagram (@roadkill_ranch)

 

“I’ve had to set COVID-19 shopping rules. Everyone has to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer (which I provide) upon entry. Also, I’ve had to put up plexiglass barriers at the register and limit the amount of people in the store. I do allow clothing to be tried on and have a quarantine section for the clothing that has been tried on but is not being purchased. These clothes hang for 24 hours before I put them back onto the racks,” said Julie Rasmussen, the owner of Roadkill Ranch, a retail store in downtown Fullerton. 

Along with ensuring the safety of their stores, many business owners have had to find new ways to advertise. In a survey conducted in March 2020, it is stated that 89% of respondents made changes to their promotional efforts in response to COVID-19.

Glynnes Speak, who owns Comic Book Hideout, a comic book retail store in downtown Fullerton said, “A lot of our advertising comes from word of mouth. We have really great customer service at the Hideout. So a lot of people are drawn to our location by hearing about it from friends and family so I think by limiting the amount of people that can come in the store that kind of takes away from a little bit of that content.” 

Speak also spoke about how she is using Instagram live for sales and promotion.

Another effect of COVID-19 on businesses is how they get their materials.

“The biggest challenge COVID-19 brought about was my inability to restock my store. Being in the fashion industry, the majority of my goods come from LA and NY. LA and NY were still on lockdown even when OC was given the ok to reopen. All of the trade shows were cancelled and vendors were having a difficult time getting their imports from overseas due to all of the travel bans,” said Rasmussen. 

With travel restrictions and distributing closures, it makes it harder for small businesses to restock on inventory and get goods that they would normally be getting weekly or monthly.

“Our distributor was also closed down for three months so we didn’t get any new product in that time so due to that it was kind of a forced pause for all of our subscribers and our normal regulars that come in every week to get books,” said Speak.

Peter R. Orszag said in the article “The Pandemic Will Make Big Companies More Dominant Than Ever” that, “Another reason the pandemic will hasten the growing dominance of large companies is that it will push supply chains to become vertically integrated, as larger firms exert more control over their supply and smaller companies in the chain need help.” 

Rasmussen said what she believes is needed from consumers in the new shopping era of COVID-19. 

It’s important to support the small businesses in your area. The big box stores and corporations will survive, but the small businesses need your patronage more than ever. It’s been the most brutal time and I feel sorry for those businesses who were not able to weather the storm.”

— Julie Rasmussen