Like many other businesses deemed nonessential, Block Bros. at Home at Landerwood Plaza in Pepper Pike closed March 17 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carolyne Bloch, who owns the home fashions and accents showroom with her husband, Paul, said the entire staff had to go on unemployment and other government assistance to get by.
“We came to a total halt,” Bloch said. “We don’t have an interactive website that people could order from. But people who have been calling me on my cellphone at home – ones that I’m familiar with and close to – I’ve been to their homes and have installed a couple of orders. So, we were trying to survive but that wasn’t enough to keep all of our employees busy. So, of course, they had to go elsewhere for income.”
But as retail businesses began to open May 12, Bloch said the store was ready to jump back into business – with a couple important tweaks.
“I purchased over 200 face masks for employees and customers that need them,” she said. “They’re made out of a high-end fabric that represents the product in our store. And we also installed sanitation stations in many areas.”
Bloch, who attends Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike, added sanitation isn’t a new practice at Block Bros.
“We’ve always been keen on over sterilization here, we always were in the practice of having Lysol and Purell at every single desk,” she said. “So, everyone is very comfortable as far as us keeping totally clean and observant of all of the practices that we have been doing for years.”
During the shutdown, Bloch said she couldn’t go out in public without people recognizing her and expressing their excitement to shop at the furniture store again, especially as they spend more time inside and see what pieces need replaced. For the first month back to work, the store has reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“Then we plan to increase that in June, and by July, we have our annual summer sidewalk sale, so we plan to be back in full gear by then,” she said.
While closed, Bloch said the business donated face masks to first responders and front-line workers. But now, they’re ready to have more direct interactions with community members.
“Everyone is really excited to get back at it,” she said. “Customers can definitely trust us as far as making sure we’re going overboard with our cleaning, polishing and prep to make sure the store is ready for them. We have plenty of inventory in stock and even more supplies on hand. All the manufacturers that we deal with are finally shipping, so we’re looking forward to a very nice spring season.”
Throughout all of this though, the team at the nearly 50-year-old Block Bros. is confident they’re here to stay.
“That is what we’re working towards with everyone,” Bloch said. “(Our team) has all been participating and cooperating with us, and helping us plan for a prosperous future. So, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure we will be here.”