One year ago, COVID-19 caused the wheels to come off Michigan’s economy. It wasn’t until June that the shutdown was lifted with specific restrictions.
As the virus rate varied, state officials again banned indoor dining and restricted the number of customers who could be in small businesses.
It’s been a year of adaptation and inventiveness by business owners to remain afloat. Social media played a key role.
“Businesses who have weathered the pandemic developed a timely communication strategy using email and social media to update their customers on opening hours, product/service and safety precautions taken,” said Patricia Huddleston, director of the information and media Ph.D. program as well as professor of retailing, advertising and public relations at Michigan State University. “Specifically, they had to adapt their retail space to make employee and customer safety a priority.”
Summer Schriner, who owns Grace Boutique and Bad Annie’s in Old Town Lansing, is one business owner who embraced that strategy. She said loyal customers and people concerned about small businesses supported her by shopping there when possible and shopping online.
The biggest lesson she learned is how to adjust to quickly changing conditions.
“I think it’s going to be a hot minute before this is done,” Schriner said. “We all just have to keep staying on our toes and doing what we need to do to stay afloat.”
“Retailers need to continue to put the health and safety of their employees and customers front and center,” she said. “Until the COVID virus is contained, that will be a major concern for customers.”