Numerous retailers are joining the ranks of those who have temporarily closed their doors in response to the coronavirus containment efforts.
Northfield Square mall in Bradley, like every mall throughout the state, was to close as of 3 p.m. Saturday.
All non-essential retailers were also to close their locations and many have announced they indeed have done that.
Marshalls, which has a store in the Watertower Place shopping complex anchored by Target, closed Thursday as its owner, TJX Companies, said it was attempting to prevent staff and customers from contracting the coronavirus.
Here is only a partial list of notable stores with local locations which have closed or are allowing only curbside pickup due to virus concerns: JCPenney’s, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s, Apple and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
“This is definitely a very trying time,” said Emily Poff, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “Businesses of all types will be hurting, but especially small business.”
Poff said so many businesses operate on thin profit margins that an interruption on a scale such as this can be devastating
“Some business I’m afraid will likely not make it,” she said. “Hopefully when this is done, they will be able to pick up the pieces. None of us were prepared for this when the new year came. How could we have been? I don’t know what the full implications will be.”
Poff said statewide chamber leadership have been in discussions with the state’s Small Business Administration to press for relief and assistance for the owners.
She noted she is maintaining contact with numerous chamber members.
“There is just so much uncertainly. It’s just a mess,” she said.
Conrad Raczkowski, manager of Northfield Square, said those mall businesses which had not previously closed due to the virus, did so Saturday. He said the mall will remain shuttered until the governor allows it and every other mall across the state to reopen.
When that may be is a question Raczkowski hesitated to even guess.
“Five o’clock. That was it. To be honest, most of the tenants were already in the process of shutting down. I have never experienced a situation like this before,” he said.
The list of “essential” businesses include grocery stores, drug stores, hardware, pet supplies, media, banks, credit unions, charitable organization, gas stations, auto repair, and transportation will remain open.
Bradley Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Watson said there is no way of predicting what type of impact these lost sales taxes will have on communities.
“Grocery stores have been doing big business. March [sales] numbers could actually be big due to grocery stores. It’s wait-and-see right now. We’ll see how the numbers respond,” he said.
How long will these stores be closed? That answer is unknown. Companies note on answering machines or on websites that most will last for at least two weeks.
“This pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, including those of our associates and customers,” TJ Maxx CEO Ernie Herrman wrote. “We are concerned for the health and financial well-being of our associates, and we plan to pay our store, distribution and office associates for two weeks during these closures.”
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As the COVID-19 illness has waged war on public health, it has also delayed the opening of the Hospice of Kankakee Valley’s large expansion in Bourbonnais.
The planned grand opening of the Community Grief Center, 3114 Career Center Road, which had been set for 10:30 a.m. March 27, has been delayed until further notice, executive director Connie Lemon said Thursday.
Lemon said this simply is not the environment to have a grand opening. She said staff are communicating by telephone with those in need of hospice bereavement counseling.
“We have counselors in the building, but everything is being done on the phone right now,” she said. “It’s going OK. Our partners are quite OK with the telephone system. We’ve received no push-back.”
Regarding the delayed opening, she said there is nothing that can be done about it.
“We’ve been working on this project for two years, what’s another few weeks?” she said.
Hospice purchased the former Lutheran Church of The Good Shepherd along Illinois Route 102 and Career Center Road. The 8,000-square-foot building, which sits on 1.6 acres, has been completely redesigned.
When the grand opening will be held, Lemon said is something she could not speculate.
“We’ll let you know, but not until we know,” she informed me.
Best wishes to everyone within the community. These are difficult and frightening times. Do your best to follow the simple rules of staying away from crowds and frequently washing your hands.