Essential and Nonessential Businesses Through the Pandemic

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Photo by Sophie Opp

RKA Gun Gallery in Plano remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses are still up and running despite current health concerns.

In any community there’s a countless number of people fulfilling different jobs to keep things running smoothly. Each worker is important in his or her own way. Due to recent events, these people have now been placed in two categories: essential and nonessential. For many businesses, especially those deemed nonessential, COVID-19 has destroyed their livelihoods and way of income.

Owning one’s own business can be rewarding but sometimes risky in terms of keeping income steady. With a global pandemic coming into play, these risks intensify. Owner of a private salon in Lockport, IL. Beth Beaumont says she is a nonessential, but still important, business. 

“I still have people calling me for appointments even though I am considered nonessential. Some of my clients are business women and men who are concerned about sitting in a professional seat and not looking their best,” Beaumont said. 

It can be hard to transition from having clients all day every day to only only a few. Beaumont used to work 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, but now she says her family income has been cut by more than 60%. It can feel discouraging, as if all the work that went into starting a successful business has been thrown away. 

“For the past several years, I strived to make something of my business, and it is really disheartening to see my clients having to use alternative methods,” Beaumont said. 

It is an ongoing struggle to find clients and provide for her family, but Beaumont stays motivated because she knows that her business has a purpose and will not be forgotten, even through these tough times. 

Unfortunately, there are other people that are facing an even uglier side of the working world. Former assistant manager of the Holiday Inn in Chesterfield, MI. Jami Dahl is currently receiving unemployment and has yet to receive a payment since the shelter-in-place began. 

“It is difficult to find a job right now because most hospitality businesses are either closed or not fully operating. Also, I have to consider that any job I do find could put me at risk since many hotels are full of hospital workers,” Dahl said.

 Dahl is not the only one facing this problem. According to a data analysis website for small businesses womply.com, lodging places have had a business decrease by 67%. That being said, there are also businesses flourishing during this time. Co-owner of RKA Gun Gallery Julie Peters says her business is doing just fine. 

“We did see a huge surge in sales in March when the closure started happening but now we are back to normal,” Peters said. 

Being an essential business could mean many things. Places like grocery stores and gas stations obviously have to stay open so people can survive in this quarantine, but some places stay open for other reasons. 

“We are continuing business as usual. We are considered essential for purposes of safety and security,” Peters said. 

The gun gallery is more than just a shooting range for entertainment, which is why it is still open. While the store is staying open, that does not mean everything is the same. There are of course extra precautions that must be taken for sanitation. 

“We are cleaning and disinfecting more often. We do our best to space people in the range if possible. We have also changed the number of students in our training classes,” Peters said.

 Ultimately, whether businesses are essential or nonessential, everyone is being affected. In just a short period of time, our lives have changed dramatically and whether we like it or not, business is changing as well. We all hope things get back to normal as soon as possible so we may all get the chance to thrive again. Hopefully, the economy will bounce back and small businesses will survive long past COVID-19.