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La Salle retail business owner: 'I kind of expected something like this to happen'

Local businesses prepared to adapt under new state capacity guidelines

La Salle business owner Patti Hall said Tuesday "we all have to do our part," regarding Tuesday's additional measures from the state to mitigate COVID-19.

Gov. JB Pritzker confirmed Tuesday afternoon statewide capacity limitations and shutdowns. These restrictions will go into effect starting Friday, aiming to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mitigations will shut down casinos, video gambling terminals and limit the capacity for retail stores, including “big box” stores, and health and fitness centers to a 25% capacity

These limitations will affect small businesses in the La Salle-Peru area.

Jeremy Reed, owner of That Guy’s Secret in La Salle, said he thought some limitations may be coming to retail stores, such as what was confirmed Tuesday.

“It was well forecasted,” Reed said. “I kind of expected something like this to happen with the state of coronavirus right now.”

Reed said the 25% limitation would affect small businesses but stated the mitigations are better than seeing a full shutdown like the state saw earlier in the year.

Reed said in an ideal world if limitations were needed he would like to see the “big box” stores be subject to the same requirements as the small businesses, but also said he understands how the larger stores can fall within essential needs.

Small retail stores can function within the limitations, according to Reed, because of the nature of their customers and storefronts.

“Us as smaller businesses are rarely in a situation where we have 20 people in our store at one time,” Reed said. “That’s not how we operate. We are a service-based industry and we provide a much more one-on-one shopping experience.”

Hall echoed Reed’s claim of still being able to function through the limitation. Even while they may create an inconvenience.

“We normally don’t have too many people (in the store) at a time,” Hall said. “I think it’d be a very limited base where we would have to station someone at the door to (keep track).”

Both Hall and Reed said their businesses try to do what they can to ensure the safety of their customers and those who work at the small businesses.

“We’ve been 100% compliant with whatever (the state) has come up with,” Hall said. “We try to do everything we can do to help flatten the curve slow down the virus to a manageable level.”

Hall stated Rudy’s Liquors has continued to sanitize the entire store nightly while promoting their options for curbside pick-up to help limit the amount of people gathering in the store.

The pandemic has brought other unforeseen changes to small businesses but Reed has tried to turn the changes into opportunities.

Reed has been operating That Guy’s Secret with reduced hours since the start of the pandemic and had hoped to expand soon, but thought those plans might have to be put on hold for the time being.

Reed, however, said his store offers one-on-one shopping during hours that are not available to the public. Reed believes this can help people who might be at-risk to the virus feel safer and still have the ability to shop locally.

“We’re just taking as much precaution as we can to try and help stop the spread of the pandemic,” Reed said.

With the holiday season approaching tactics, such as reserved private shopping may become more utilized to try and help keep customers, employees and the community safe, the owners said.

Spring Valley Supermarket's owner was unavailable for comment, but a shift manager said they were unaware of the governor's newest mandate and would need time to look into it before deciding how they'll proceed.

HyVee in Peru also deferred comment to its corporate spokesperson.

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