We’ve been tracking the effects of COVID-19 on that small city in southeastern Oakland County—on the upswing when the virus hit. The second lockdown came as we entered the holiday season.
One Detroit’s Bill Kubota and Chris Jordan see how they fared and provide perhaps a glimpse where that city—and the rest of us—are going.
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Scott Brown Right now Congress is putting together a stimulus package, who knows if something will come out of it to help things out. Right now we’re two weeks into December and we’re still on carryout only.
We’re 56 percent down from where we were last year.
Bill Kubota CHRIS, WE’RE BACK AT IT AGAIN – ANOTHER LOOK AT CLAWSON – YOU LIVE THERE, I USED TO.
WE WANTED TO SEE HOW THAT SMALL CITY IS FARING IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC…
Chris Jordan THAT BEING ANOTHER SHUTDOWN, JUST AS THE HOLIDAYS WERE RAMPING UP.
BOTTOM LINE FOR THE BUSINESSES WE TALKED TO: SOME DOING OKAY, SOME DOING NOT SO GOOD AND SOME SURPRISING NEW OPPORTUNITIES THAT HAVE POPPED UP DURING THE PANDEMIC
|Joan Horton Well we’re all waiting to see what happens on Friday, whether or not the this uh, this shutdown and I’ll call it a shutdown because because it is for restaurants if it continues or not or it’s going to be it’s going to be left in.|
|(Bill) CHRISTMAS IN CLAWSON – THE TREES, CAROLERS AS FESTIVE AS CAN BE DURING A PANDEMIC AS STORES OPERATE UNDER A TIGHT CAPACITY LIMIT.|
Chris Jordan How did it go for you there?
Mary Liz Curtin It went all right. It was not as busy as it usually is, people came in, came out. No lingering, no coffee serving, no cookie eating, no hugging and kissing. But we had a decent Christmas. All things given we made it through the year, we’re ready for another one.
|Dan Soffin We had a lot of people that I’d never seen before that said I want to 100 percent support local, not just us but just all of their shopping they were saying they were trying to do it with local businesses.|
|Vikki Stoddart I would say it was really at par for where we usually are.|
|(Chris) VIKKI STODDART RUNS THE HIPS RESALE BOUTIQUE.|
|Vikki Stoddart We’re really dedicating our time to building a better presence online, so a lot of our time is spent, you know, taking pictures.|
|Vikki Stoddart (phone video) Here we are walking through the store…|
|(Chris) AT HIPS STODDART HAD TO CLOSE HER CHANGING ROOMS.|
|Vikki Stoddart (phone video) It is almost showtime… I’ve got my right-hand mans here, I’ve got Jen (Hi…) and there’s Kelly…|
|(Chris) AFTER THE FIRST SHUTDOWN SHE STARTED SELLING VIA WEEKLY FACEBOOK LIVE EVENTS BEGINNING IN MAY – A COUPLE HOURS EVERY THURSDAY AT SEVEN.|
|(vikki on facebook live)|
|Vikki Stoddart We’ve actually added another live on Mondays so now we’re doing two lives a week and we’re open in store shopping twice a week.|
|(vikki on facebook live)|
|(Chris) WHEN STORES ARE OPEN SHOPPERS STAY SIX FEET APART – MASKING UP HASN’T BEEN TOO BIG A PROBLEM FOR MOST PEOPLE.|
Mary Liz Curtin We had one lady who insisted what she was doing was masked and I said, “Well, not really.”
Chris Jordan Oh…
Mary Liz Curtin “Well do you want me to throw up and faint?” And I was so close to saying, “Kinda”.
|(Chris) LEON & LULU, LIKE HIPS, HAS FOUND THE SOLUTION ONLINE.|
Mary Liz Curtin The bonus for us is this is the year we’ve finally got our e-commerce up and rolling, we found the right solutions, something we tried to do twice in the past so we’ve had a pretty decent first run with a real website.
We can now stay up past midnight, drinking a glass of wine there in your nightgown shopping online just as nature intended.
|MEANWHILE, CLAWSON’S WARP 9 COMICS HAS FOUND THAT FOCUSING ON IN-STORE SELLING RATHER THAN ONLINE IS THEIR KEY TO SUCCESS.|
|Dan Soffin We thought we were going to lose a lot of business to online which at first that’s the way it was going, but I don’t think anybody could forsee the USPS kind of failing as much as they did, so because of that we saw a lot more in-store shopping than we thought we would, which is good. We had a lot of people we’ve never seen before that were “I want to 100 percent support local” and not just us but just all of their shopping, they were saying they were trying to do it with local businesses.|
|DAN SOFFIN SAID THAT WARP 9 DID BETTER THIS PAST DECEMBER THAN THEY DID THE YEAR BEFORE – WITH STRONG SALES IN TRADE PAPERBACKS.|
|Dan Soffin We were just hoping to hold our own, you know, that was the goal, it was just try to hold our own because you know, we already lost a ton of money this year.|
|Scott Brown The second shutdown was much harder at first to I think mentally and emotionally to deal with. And it took me a good two three weeks to kind of get into my groove.|
|AS ZEOLI’S MODERN ITALIAN PERFECTS IT’S CARRYOUT MENU, OWNER SCOTT BROWN HAS BOX LUNCH ORDERS TO FILL.|
|Scott Brown At this point it’s just about paying the bills.|
THE LUNCHES FOR FRONT LINE MEDICAL WORKERS, PAID FOR BY A PROGRAM THAT BEGAN LAST SPRING.
ZEOLI’S DID WELL LAST SUMMER AFTER THE FIRST SHUTDOWN LIFTED.
THEN THE COVID NUMBERS ROSE – BY FALL THE RIDE WAS OVER.
|Scott Brown Yeah we had 50 percent capacity and the ability to seat outdoors but we had no one coming in. People were making that choice on their own.|
|Chris Jordan MEANWHILE, ACROSS THE STREET THERE’S PUMACHUG, A RESTAURANT SO NEW THAT THEY MISSED OUT ON THE FIRST WAVE OF STATE AND FEDERAL ASSISTANCE HAVING JUST OPENED THEIR DOORS IN SUMMER. BUT NOW THEY ARE FEATURING A GREEENHOUSE COURTESY OF OAKLAND COUNTY. ONE WAY TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO SIT DOWN AND EAT OUTDOORS.|
Bill Kubota THE CITY PLANS TO DISTRIBUTE MORE GREENHOUSES SOON – LIMITED TO PARTIES OF SIX, PRESUMABLY FAMILY MEMBERS AND VERY CLOSE AQUAINTANCES.
TO DINE OUT NOW IN METRO DETROIT, IT’S sitting outside OR IN GREENHOUSES, IGLOOS or TENTS.
Bill Kubota Are those effective, are those safe? What’s the general take on that?
Brenna Houck I think the jury is still out on whether those are effective or safe. The state has some kind of guidelines that I would say surprised restaurant owners when the most recent shutdown was announced in November.
|(Bill) THE TENTS HAVE TO BE OPEN ON THREE SIDES.|
|Brenna Houck An enclosed tent is kind of like an indoor dining room in a lot of ways.|
|FOR PUMACHUG, THEIR GREENHOUSE BRINGS CUSTOMERS – BUT NOT ENOUGH.|
Tyler Williams I would say conservatively we’re losing 10 thousand dollars a month.
Andrea Williams Despite everything we’ve done to push carryout we can’t survive on food volume alone.
Chris Jordan How long will you be able to stay in business?
Tyler Williams I think not receiving any government funding, not much longer to be honest. I’m really hoping that they open things back up on the 15th this Friday. If they don’t and we’re unsuccessful any government funding…
Andrea Williams It’s not worth staying open.
Tyler Williams I don’t know how much longer we can make it.
|AS RESTAURANTS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL – EXPECT MORE IDEAS TO EXPAND THEIR CARRYOUT MARKET.|
|Brenna Houck Another thing that I’ve seen recently pop up more is restaurant subscriptions so there are a few restaurants in Detroit right now that are sort of piloting these subscription services…|
|Bill Kubota SUBSCRIPTION DINING -THAT’S RESTAURANTS TRYING TO FIND A MORE CONSISTANT CASH FLOW.|
Chris Jordan BUT CLAWSON’S THREE CATS RESTAURANT HAS A PROGRAM – NOT SUBSCRIPTION BUT YOU CAN TRAVEL WITHOUT LEAVING HOME.
OWNER MARY LIZ CURTIN’S CALLS IT THREE CATS WILL TASTE YOU THERE – SAMPLE A REGIONAL CUISINE, SELECT FROM A MUSICAL PLAYLIST, WATCH MOVIES, PERHAPS GET YOUR VIRTUAL PASSPORT STAMPED.
|Mary Liz Curtin It’s something you can do with your friends if you have Facebook watch parties, watch the same movies together, you can have it at your house, I can have it in mine, we can all chat.|
|(Chris) IT STARTS THIS WEEK – FIRST STOP, FRANCE – THEN ON TO CALIFORNIA… AND POLAND.|
|Mary Liz Curtin Every business I have spoken to whether it’s in Clawson or anywhere else has discovered that there are things we can do better, ways we can change our business to get through this time, all of which will have a positive impact later.|