Businesses on the brim

As COVID cases rise, local business are faced with financial hardship and difficult decisions


Madison Harvey

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many local small businesses hard, one of those hard hit businesses being The Bike Haven in McHenry Illinois.

Josie Cable, Opinions Editor

As the government continues to close businesses for the safety of citizens, many stores and restaurants are finding themselves in a difficult situation; stay open and risk getting citizens and workers sick, or close and have the thing they’ve worked so hard for go under.

Kim Werner of Fiddlestiks, an arts and crafts store in McHenry, says that her newly opened business has taken a major hit because of the virus.

“We opened on March 17th and closed three days later,” she said. “We did not reopen until the end of May.” 

Werner says the artisans creating the inventory in her store have also been hung out to dry.

”Our store is made up of 60+ artisans who also do many craft shows throughout the year as their source of income. With no craft shows this year, many of them have lost a lot,” states Werner.

Fiddlestiks is not the only small business in America to have encountered some rough waters. According to Heather Long from The Washington Post, “The coronavirus pandemic is emerging as an existential threat to the nation’s small businesses — despite Congress approving a historic $700 billion to support them — with the potential to further diminish the place of small companies in the American economy,”

Without the help of indoor shopping, Werner says they’ve had to get creative with how they garner their sales. 

“We did a few Facebook Live videos during the months we were closed. We lost a lot of sales for Easter and Spring. We [collectively] as owners covered the rent for the two months that we were closed,” Werner explains.

Along with Fiddlestiks, The Bike Haven, a bike shop with stores both in McHenry and on the Woodstock Square, has also had to close for the safety of their customers. Cory Madsen, the owner of The Bike Haven, says that this has had a major effect on their sales, as well as their ability to get their supplies from their distributors. 

“Many of the products we sell were out of stock, as most of our distributors are located in Asia. From bicycles to tubes and other replacement parts, it put many services and sales on hold, possibly until next year,” explains Madsen.

Even through the chaos and stress of shutting down and losing business, these stores and many others have found ways to adapt to the pandemic and serve their customers safely. Through deliveries, curb-side pickup, and online shopping, businesses like Fiddlestiks and The Bike Haven are working to keep their stores functioning. 

“We allow customers to come into the store and shop. We have a larger store and are able to better social distance. We also require customers and staff to use masks,” says Werner.

Although stores like Fiddlestiks are getting back up and running. This is the opposite for bars and restaurants around the area. 

Because of the rising COVID-19 cases in Chicago’s suburbs, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has once again closed indoor service for bars and restaurants. “It is an unfortunate fact that the research, and there is a lot of it, shows that bars and restaurants are places where there is a lot of spread of the virus,” Pritzker announces after a COVID-19 briefing. 

Siriphote Kaewnopparat from Green Peapod Thai restaurant says that COVID-19 has affected every part of their business, however they are willing to do the most to limit the spread, and keep their customers safe. “If Pritzker shuts down all the businesses,” Kaewnopparat says, “I will follow if it can save lots of lives, I think if we all do the same it will slow the spreading of COVID.”

Having to be closed, partially open, or completely open despite the virus, as well as constantly adapting to new restrictions, has created a lot of challenges for business owners both in McHenry and all over the country. However, these businesses have stayed strong and done what they could to keep going, something Americans have always seemed to do no matter where they were at in history; at war, in a depression, or in the midst of a global pandemic.