PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Across Rhode Island, small businesses are scrambling to adjust to one of Gov. Raimondo’s strongest restrictions yet; close their physical doors until April 13.
“This is a step I take reluctantly after great consideration and is a tough one.”
On Saturday, the governor said a spike in COVID-19 cases factored into that decision and her stay-at-home order that would have likely limited customers even if shops remained open.
But with little warning, small businesses we spoke with over the weekend weren’t fully prepared for a complete transition to online shopping.
Floral shop owner Semia Dunne said she expects sales to be greatly impacted.
“In the floral community it’s a very challenging time right now. The in-person component of this is going to hurt however you have to adapt and what we’ve decided to do is a ton more shipping and a ton more curbside pick-up.”
At Craftland on Westminster Street in Providence, owner Margaret Carleton has already been seeing the effects of COVID-19. She made the decision to temporarily close last week, but said she was only planning on being closed for another week.
“It doesn’t seem like there is any end in sight so I had to lay off my staff and close the door.”
Carlton is now relying on online purchases for revenue, but says she is still working on shifting sales online.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t ready for this to happen. We’ve turned off the heat and anything we can turn off but it’s hard, it’s really hard.”
Both business owners were concerned about the uncertainty of when they can reopen.
“The big stores and online retailers that have a lot more money in the bank than we might. We are close to the bone and trying to contain and make this a community people want to live in and come back to,” Carlton said.
“As a small business owner we are part of community first and foremost and we have to do our job as a small business owner to take care of the community,” Dunne said.