Customers find ways to help local business during coronavirus pandemic

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Capital News Service

LANSING — While many Michigan businesses struggle to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, loyal customers search for ways to help them out. Here’s a look at some of their stories.

Customers help Allegan party store stay clean

Subham Singh, the owner of Riverside Market Convenience/Party Store in Allegan, has taken extra sanitary precautions at his store in light of the pandemic.

Customers noticed and are supporting him and his business during these tough times:

“We’ve been cleaning the whole store with proper cleaning supplies daily after closing for about an hour, and multiple times throughout the day to ensure we’re keeping our community healthy and cared for.

“Every time we ran out of gloves and masks, we’ve had a few customers come and donate a few more boxes for us. It was definitely a great feeling, and it showed how much a community recognizes a small business like us that’s exposed to this pandemic on a daily basis.

“It definitely helps bring our spirits up, and shows how much care there is within the Allegan community. It truly makes us strive as a business to help serve our people with that much more love and care.”

Acts of kindness chase away the blues

Alicia Robinette, the owner of Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery in Grand Rapids, has had her staff’s morale boosted by the generosity of her community:

“Since we are partially open, we are really grateful for the opportunity to work and serve the community. Donuts, wine, cider and apples seem to make people really happy.

“Yes, we are losing a lot of income with a partial shutdown, but we have been pleasantly surprised by our wonderful customers who have been supporting us by spending locally at our place. They have been tipping the employees more than usual.

“We also have a man who has 

“Most people who come in tell us that they are buying food for their neighbors and friends. They have really helped keep up morale for the people who are still working, and the employees who are on a leave have also been encouraged by what they are seeing happening at our store.

“It really is easy to get depressed if you don’t have control over things in your life, but these acts of kindness sure do help keep the blues away.”

Customers support Lansing art supply store

Casey Sorrow, the owner of Odd Nodd Art Supply in Lansing, closed his physical store to comply with the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.

The local community, however, is going out of its way to ensure support for Sorrow and her business during the pandemic:

“Although our business is physically shut down, we have seen many acts of kindness from our customers and community.

“Our customers have been supportive with online sales, particularly purchasing gift cards for gifts and for themselves to be used when we do physically open our doors in the future.

“Another Lansing business, Flat Out Graphics, organized a t-shirt fundraising effort for local businesses struggling during these times. Essentially, they are donating money and profits to each business that signs up. It is helping us get through these times, both financially and mentally.

“The support we have seen from customers and Lansing businesses has helped us keep a positive outlook looking forward to finally being able to open our shop to customers again.”

Reaping what you sow in Monroe

Dena Voukides, the owner of Dena’s Family Restaurant in Monroe, started an organization to raise money for America’s disabled veterans. Now, members of that group and her community are ensuring her business stays afloat. Her story:

“I get a little emotional, so please understand.

“I’ve been in this business for 20 years, so I’m very well connected with the community. And their hearts are better than any stimulus check you can get.

“There was one particular thing that happened at the beginning of all this.

“I helped build an organization called Disabled Veterans of America. I’ve done three or four fundraisers for them, and they were very successful. When all of this started, one of the gentlemen who is a member there came to pick up a carry-out, and he gave me an envelope. There was a check for $1,000.

“It came from people who need the money. They’re disabled veterans. They need every penny that they can get. They wanted me to stay in business. They wanted me to be here another 20 years, I guess.

“That just made me change my way of thinking about everything in life. It was just very heartwarming, and it just makes me thrive every day to do something even better for someone else the next day.

“When all the things start opening up again, my next project is to do another fundraiser for the Disabled Veterans of America, so we can generate that money and then some more for them.”

A corona surprise in Berkley

Robyn Coden, the owner of Sum Girls Boutique in Berkley, enjoys customers when they visit her shop to brighten a loved one’s day:

“Just yesterday a man who lives by our shop bought the gorgeous Kate Spade dress in our window for his wife. She eyes it every time they walk by the shop.

“I love how he’s setting her up to be sad when it’s gone because she’s going to be so happy when he gives it to her as a gift.

“That kind of stuff is so special, especially during a difficult and yucky time like this.”

Ben Goldman writes for Great Lakes Echo.

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