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Being able to shop safely is one of the many things taken from us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, businesses in Northeast Ohio have adapted as best as they can to make sure their customers are still getting their product.

Mark Dymidowski, president of House of Lights in Mayfield Heights; Joel Herman, owner of Herman Textiles Window Fashions in Highland Heights; and Abigail Stadlin, owner of Dunn Hardware in Richmond Heights, have said their respective businesses have all weathered the storm of COVID-19 so far.

All three of these businesses are still allowing customers to visit in-person, albeit under a new set of guidelines.

“All of the employees wear facemasks,” Dymidowski said. “We have hand sanitizing stations for the customers and we hand out little sanitizer bottles to all customers.”

Herman said it’s important to strike a balance between providing a product while also keeping everyone as safe as possible.

“I think the important thing is that people want to be assured that their safety is most important,” Herman said. “If I’m in a commercial place of business, I’ll go through safety measures. I’m usually in a conference room or an office, and we’re socially distancing. Everybody adheres to it. Even homeowners.

“When I go into a home, I will ask (about masking). Because I have a mask on, people will ask ‘would you feel better if I had my mask on?’ and I say ‘I would appreciate it,’” he added.

While some businesses have seen a downturn in sales, these three businesses have continued to thrive despite the pandemic.

With many people confined to their homes due to lockdowns, Stadlin said people are devoting more time and money into their home life.

“It’s been a tremendous year for hardware stores around the country and up here,” said Stadlin, who owns the business with her husband, Jamie. “We’ve had more customers than we’ve ever had in my nine years here.

“The notion that people are stuck at home, there’s not much to do other than make your home the most enjoyable place possible. So all of that money that used to go into consuming disposable things like vacations, concerts, movies all turned into ‘I’m stuck at home, I think I need a new grill.’”

While these businesses are doing the best they can, there are still some obstacles to providing customers a safe environment while also giving them a good product. Stadlin said that even those obstacles can still turn into unexpected benefits.

“The most unusual thing that happened this year is the fact that we limited traffic into the store,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine people would have to wait in a line to come into Dunn Hardware.

“...And ironically, creating lines not only kept people safe because of social distancing, but it actually helped the flow and process of customer service in the store. Because pre-COVID, you could have a bunch of people in one area trying to get help at the same time, just depending on when they decided to show up. But the fact that we were able to make lines actually helped smooth the transition of business.”

Publisher’s note: Joel Herman is a member of the Cleveland Jewish News Foundation Board of Directors.

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