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Artisan’s Bench store manager Brittany Campbell packages up an item for shipping Tuesday, March 17, 2020 in the downtown Brighton store. In the foreground are two packages prepared for curbside pickup. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
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Some small local shop owners in Livingston County are closing their doors.
Others are staying open but transitioning to a new normal, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Artisan’s Bench store manager Brittany Campbell said the spread of coronavirus and closures that followed have affected all local shop keeps in Brighton and the rest of Livingston County, in one way or another.
The handcrafted goods store in downtown Brighton is among shops scrambling to figure out how to stay open and make sales.
Campbell said she believes the shop will weather the storm by switching focus to online sales and curbside pick-up.
“There is a lot more activities on social media, and that is more important now than ever when people can’t leave their houses or go into businesses,” she said. “Social and our newsletter are our main, if not only, ways to reach our customers.”
The store is offering free local delivery and free shipping.
“We’ve been growing our website for the last few years, and compared to most small town local small businesses, we’re actually, I think, pretty well set up, compared to someone who doesn’t really have a website beyond an info page,” she said.
Lisa Jarrell, who co-owns Finding Roots in downtown Howell, lives with uncertainty, having closed the store temporarily due to the coronavirus. She stands next to the closed business Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Howell shop keep Lisa Jarrell temporarily closed Finding Roots in downtown Howell through at least March 30.
“Unfortunately, with our type of product being handmade and one-of-a-kind and individual things, we don’t have online sales,” Jarrell, the shop’s co-owner, said Tuesday. “That is one of the tougher aspects of this.”
While she has one employee, who can do work for the shop from home, the more than 100 makers who are vendors at the shop have one less venue to sell their goods.
“They have been supportive and because of that we will all prevail. We will all share in the loss, and in the larger scheme of things, we have to be optimistic and get through this,” she said.
Worry about employees
Barb Binkley of Brighton businesses Cooper & Binkley Jewelers and Bink & Babs Boutique is also adapting, but she is concerned about employees whose hours have been cut, especially at the jewelry store.
“We’ve got young families, breadwinners, and I also have people who don’t want to go out and we’ve taken them off the schedule because we respect that,” Binkley said.
“There is an option to get part-time unemployment and we are working on finding out more for people whose hours have been cut, and if we get a mandate to close, we’ll help them apply for unemployment,” she said.
The jewelry store was open as of Wednesday.
“A jeweler is a destination store, so we are still letting people come in, and we also do repairs, so we are staying open, but we are modifying hours, and we’re going to have less people in the building. We’re trying to do the social distancing thing as best as possible,” she said.
The boutique, which doesn’t do online sales, has curbside pick-up, and goods can be shipped out.
Binkley said they can also offer personal shopping services, virtually.
“We can take pictures, take credit card payments,” remotely, she said.
“At the boutique we get so much walk-by traffic with the restaurants. With the restaurants being all but closed, there isn’t as much need to have many people here,” she said.
Oh My Lolli! candy shop owner Keith Karp said he will be doing curbside sales “unless and until they tell me to close the business,” he said. “As long as I’m not mandated to close, I’ll be here.”
The downtown Brighton shop also sells products online.
As of Tuesday, he was still allowing customers into the store.
“We usually have less than 10 people in here,” he said.
But he said it could all change.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” he said.
Gyms going online
Gyms are also going online, following a state mandate they close.
“They are starting to go online now,” fitness instructor Kim Lenga said.
Lenga launched an online-only fitness business and coaching program, Emerge Fitness, a couple years back.
She’s glad she has it now.
Her in-person fitness instruction gigs at Hamburg Fitness Center and Oak Pointe Country Club’s fitness center have been cancelled.
“Last week, when businesses started to shut down, I decided to offer online services for free,” Lenga said.
She decided to offer free trial memberships that give people access to Facebook live fitness workouts for until at least April 6.
Shopping centers hit
Activity at the Tanger Outlet mall is down, but people still get shopping in as the county hunkers down Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)
Tanger Outlets limited hours of operation to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, to help prevent the spread of the virus, company officials announced in a release.
The company has an outlet mall in Howell Township, which had very few cars in the parking lot Tuesday.
“This decision is mindful of the health and safety of Tanger’s associates, vendors, customers, the public and the communities in which Tanger operates,” the release states. “As this unfolds, we will continue to monitor…