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With Covid-19, Glen Cove businesses get innovative

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The year 2020 was one of learning and adjusting for Glen Cove’s local businesses, said Patricia Holman, the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District executive director. In 2021, it will be a year of continuing to apply those lessons to get through the year as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise.

“I think one of the things that we learned in 2020 is to really do things virtually,” Holman said. “That was a huge thing for us, to do concerts virtually, to conduct all business virtually.”

Businesses in Glen Cove’s downtown had to adjust quickly to this new era of social distancing, with the use of third party delivery services like Postmates or Uber Eats, as well as curbside pickup and takeout. Local retailers had to increase their online presence, because until June 2020 retail stores that were considered “non-essential” were not permitted to have customers inside.

“Covid or no Covid, online presence, whether it’s Etsy or Shopify or Ebay expands their marketing,” Holman said. “I think that and I’m hoping that many of our small businesses understand that and are either in the process of doing this or already started doing this, because I think the internet has been very important as far as helping our businesses.”

In downtown Glen Cove, Holman said, five new businesses opened over 2020, including Bleu Clarinet, Simpliciti Café and Chef Morris Café.

“The businesses were able to get through it,” Holman said. “The businesses supported them and I hope that until brighter days, it continues through 2021.”

When asked how business has been on Jan. 9, Joe Valensisi, the owner of popular breakfast and lunch destination Henry’s Confectionary in Glen Cove, said it’s been o.k. “I have about 15 tables, but we can only use eight and with delivery service, we use DoorDash delivery,” he said. “It help’s a little bit. Without that, it would be rougher.”

Vanlensisi says the restaurant is sanitized twice or sometimes even three times a day. “I buy the sanitizer stuff by the gallons now,” he said.

As time passes, more people are becoming comfortable with eating indoors, Valensisi says.

“If we didn’t have that, we would have to shut the doors and it’s scary,” he said. “The mornings are always usually busy, steady. Then it gets quiet. I shortened the hours too. We used to close at 5 p.m. Now we close at 3 p.m.”

Outdoor dining was offered at the restaurant up until the cold weather would make the experience uncomfortable.

“We’re on the north side of the road so that means it’s colder on this side,” Valensisi said. “The heaters won’t do anything out there. The sidewalk is small. This guy next door let me put a few tables in front of his store. Without it I would have only been able to put two outside.”

The guy next door is Patrick Funk, the owner of F & F Design Center – Kitchen & Bath. Back in June, Valensisi and Funk were able to help each other by allowing Valensisi to place tables in front of the showroom in exchange for free advertisement. “He didn’t mind,” Valensisi said. “He said ‘maybe this benefits the both of us. People look inside and say let’s go shopping for some furniture.’”

During the initial first months of the pandemic, business had dropped off to almost nothing for his industry, Funk said.

“As time went on, people started to get a lot more comfortable with the situation and started to come out,” Funk said. “Business started to get a little bit better.”

The summertime had picked up business for Funk as people began doing home projects or were thinking of doing a project. There were a lot of estimates, Funk said, but inquiries began dropping in December. The beginning of the year is already a tough time for the field, he added.

“It’s been a little quiet the past couple weeks. I think a lot of that has to do with the new wave and everything with the country,” Funk said. “People are unnerved at how bad the virus is starting to get.”

Now is a good time to start planning home renovations on kitchen and bathrooms, however, Funk said, as the industry is seeing supply shortages. “It’s taking a lot longer to get fixtures, vanities, tiles,” he said. “Things are just taking longer from an import perspective. Places start to shut down and a lot of this stuff comes from California.”

Beginning to plan a project now can mean having a new kitchen or bathroom by the summer, Funk said.

“There were hard, quick lessons that we learned in 2020,” Holman said, adding that she was proud of the local businesses who have innovated, worked and collaborated their way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re all in this together,” Valensisi said. “We help each other. [Joe Zozzaro from Downtown Café] helps a lot. He does a lot of Restaurant Depot runs and if I’m out of supplies he always gets in touch. He’s a big help, so is Jeanine down at The View. We all try to help each other. All my neighbors here.”

“Patricia at the BID really did a lot over the summer and the fall to get people to come down to Downtown Glen Cove,” Funk added.

In this city, Valensisi said, everyone should help each other out. And supporting local businesses is one way to do that.

For more information about local businesses, visit the Glen Cove Downtown BID website at www.glencovedowntown.org, the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce website at www.glencovechamber.org and the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at www.nshchamber.org.