A closer look at what some local businesses have had to go through, a year into the pandemic

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM)- Businesses across the country have been devastated during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s had an even bigger impact on Humboldt County because of the large number of small businesses in the area.

Restaurants, bars, barbershops, salons, grocery stores and lots of other businesses plummeted economically.

Businesses like Wildberries Marketplace in Arcata not only had a drop in sales at the beginning of the pandemic, but also a shortage of products.

“The community was very anxious about the shelter in place and they began to buy everything in sight and they really basically ransacked our shelves in a way of just supplying their homes and pantries with everything they could,” said Aaron Gottschalks, General Manager at Wildberries Marletplace. “So what we ended up having after about a month into the pandemic was a real shortage of goods.”

Many businesses also had to lay off a bunch of people because of the safety guidelines and not being able to pay some of their employees.

“We had to lay off about 15 of our staff. We usually have about 90 people working for us and we got down to about 75,” said Gottschalks.

Even though the pandemic didn’t allow certain businesses like Blondies in Arcata to have live performances, they were able to adapt to the situation and continue to stay open for business.

“Not only to adapt but to provide for the community,” said the owner of Blondies Food and Drink Johanna Nagan. “We swapped over to providing more essentials and staples. So, we turned back into more of a market”

There were some businesses like thrift shops and second-hand stores that seemed to flourish during the pandemic.

“Sales have done wonderfully. We did online sales and that really worked,” said Leeann Zeck, Assistant Manager of the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop. “So when we were able to open the doors up, the customers where very happy and seemed to be coming in, buying, donations are good.”      

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There were even some brave enough like Jose Chavez, owner of My Little Oaxaca Bakery in Eureka, to open a businesses during a time where businesses where struggling.

As the weeks and months have dragged on, we now have a better understanding of how to operate businesses during this difficult time.

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Many businesses are hopeful that they will be able to reconnect with their customers.

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“You know, we want people to be able to hear music and dance and just connect,” said Nagan. So, we’re excited, we’re really excited.”