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Local businesses adapt: TP-beer pairings and other innovations

Local businesses have had to adapt fast to the rapidly spreading coronavirus and the social distancing measures imposed by state and local governments.

In one case, TP is key.

In consideration for the fact that TP shelves at stores were soon bare, Rabid Brewing of Homewood crafted a special promotion designed to address the problem.

Local businesses have had to adapt fast to the rapidly spreading coronavirus and the social distancing measures imposed by state and local governments.

In one case, TP is key.

Rabid Brewing in Homewood offers a roll of toilet paper with certain takeout purchases, a boon to those who missed out on the recent run on TP in local stores. (Provided photo)

On March 11, the World Health Organization designated COVID-19 as a pandemic. That was the beginning of a run on the stores. People stocked up on necessities of all kinds, but there seemed to be a special focus on acquiring as much toilet paper as possible.

In consideration for the fact that TP shelves at stores were soon bare, Rabid Brewing of Homewood crafted a special promotion designed to address the problem.

“Because we at Rabid Brewing believe in providing a complete solution, all crowler three-packs come with a free roll of toilet paper, while supplies last,” said a post on the company’s Facebook page Wednesday morning. Customers were invited to pick up their craft beer and TP or request free delivery. 

“Rabid Brewing wants our neighbors to stay fresh. The Great Toilet Paper Panic Purchase of 2020 has literally left neighbors online asking each other for a roll here and there. So, while there’s a mild cheekiness about this offer, it’s actually functional and helpful,” co-owner Raiye Rosado said. 
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She said the idea seemed like a solution to two problems. The brewery’s supply of TP was just collecting dust following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order on Sunday closing all bars and restaurants for indoor service through March 30 as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

At the same time, the run on TP at local stores left some local residents with a short supply.

“We had a fair number of rolls in stock for our taproom before toilet paper started being difficult to get,” Rosado said. “It was clear that our supply was just going to be sitting there while folks who haven’t been able to find any have to beg others for a basic need.”

She and co-owner Tobias Cichon also made a plea for area shoppers to ease up on product hoarding.

“Rabid would like to encourage folks to ease up on the hoarding. If you have a major TP stash, ask your neighbors, friends and family if they need any,” she said. “We’re looking forward to the near future when folks tell us about how they remember opening up their cabinet when they thought they were out and finding, with great relief, that last roll of toilet paper from Rabid Brewing.”

The TP offer was not the only example of resourcefulness this week as businesses tried to adapt quickly to the new circumstances created by the social distancing mandates.

Several businesses have tried to stay open but soon decided to close their doors temporarily as the pandemic continues to worsen. 

Liz Smith of Serendipity Yoga studio was one. On Tuesday she announced that she was moving to video conferencing yoga classes.

“Although this is a temporary situation, maintaining a sense of community during this time is vital,” she said in an email to clients. “I hope this will open up opportunities for us to stay connected and to maintain a sense of community. For some of us, this may feel weird and disconnected. I completely understand, but I encourage you to give this a try.”

Retail businesses are also shifting to online methods of keeping in touch with customers and conducting sales. 

UpsaDaisy Boutique in Homewood was open limited hours for the first few days this week but announced on Wednesday that the shop on Martin Avenue will remain closed until March 30. 

“We are still offering online gift card purchases, which can be printed out or emailed, curbside pickup or local delivery,” owners Julie Lawton, Julie Smith and Suzy Moore said in a statement on the store’s Facebook page.

Homewood shops Loulou Belle and The Villager Gift Shop also announced closure until March 30 and invited shoppers to find them online.

Both are offering customers online product browsing and ordering for pickup and limited delivery options.

“We will miss seeing you! We hope to keep bringing you a touch of joy and inspiration; follow us on Facebook and Instagram,” Loulou Belle owners Dodi Wians and Lisa Komoroski said. 

All three shops are among eight local businesses that are participating in the village’s Takeout Takeover campaign to aid businesses during the crisis. Others include 

South Suburban Humane Society is also shifting a planned event online. Executive Director Emily Klehm announced the change by email Wednesday. “We have had to cancel our Kitten Shower scheduled for this Saturday, March 21, and instead we will have a Virtual Kitten Shower! Visit our Facebook page on Saturday to learn more.”

Because of staffing shortages, SSHS has closed its Homewood Adoption Center and is operating only from the shelter in Chicago Heights. There are some changes in procedures, though, to adhere to social distancing recommendations. 

Klehm noted that a sign on the door at the Chicago Heights location, 1103 West End Ave., will instruct visitors how to use a texting app to notify staff. 

“We’ll conduct adoptions primarily outside and to ensure no more than five people are gathered in our front lobby at all times,” she said in an email to patrons. “We also have a temporary doorbell installed for those who cannot use the texting app. Please do not visit if you are ill or ‘just visiting.’ While we normally love to welcome those who are just looking, we will unfortunately need to turn you away unless you are here to adopt.”

Some grocery stores have made adjustments, too, including establishing seniors-only shopping hours. Because seniors are thought to be at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19, reserving certain hours for seniors could minimize their risk of being exposed to the disease. At Walt’s Food Center in Homewood, the hours are 7 to 8 a.m. The two Jewel-Osco stores in Homewood will have seniors shopping from 7 to 9 a.m.

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