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Local small business owners get an assist from Main Street Amherst

Hundreds of mom and pop shops will get come-back kits
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 20:14:09-04

AMHERST, Ohio — As Northeast Ohio continues its rebound from the coronavirus, one local organization is trying to offset the financial burden connected with welcoming customers back.

Mom and pop shops on main streets have taken a financial hit and are now slowly trying to emerge.

But opening back up with the virus still lurking means there are a lot more precautions needed and paying for them can be a challenge.

At Sandstone Candle Works in downtown Amherst, owner Joni Poli is preparing to partially reopen next week.

“We are a high-touch store. We have over 120 candle scents,” said Poli.

Before she flips the “open” sign on her door, Poli needs a stockpile of sanitizer, gloves and masks.

“Because we do want to make sure that people feel comfortable,” said Poli.

Poli said just finding the supplies she needs has been a challenge – and then there’s the increased cost.

“We’ve had this stuff before, but we need to keep it at a higher volume now because we’re using it more and more,” said Poli.

Main Street Amherst, which rallies around new and existing businesses is securing grants and donations to create come back kits.

“I was able to get $22,500. We wanted to help them in a small way,” said Teresa L. Gilles, Main Street Amherst.

Each bag contains gloves, paper towels, hand sanitizer and masks.

“We were able to do way more than i thought because we had some donations,” said Gilles.

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation donated 700 cloth masks and a local company covered the cost of the gloves and N95 masks.

“It’s very important for us to get whatever we can get donated,” said Poli.

The kits will be handed out to small businesses in Amherst, but also on Main Streets in Elyria, Oberlin, Lorain and Wellington.

“Each community will get about 100 bags to pass out,” said Gilles.

The reopening starter kits not only defray some of the costs associated with the new Covid-19 guidelines, they will help customers feel a little more comfortable about returning to the heart of their communities.

“People are going to support the local businesses before they go to the big box stores. I think they’re going to want to shop locally. We don’t want to see businesses close, we want them to stay open,” said Gilles.

The financial assist from Main Street Amherst putting Poli in a better position to stay afloat through the pandemic.

“They’ve helped us a lot. We’re just going to what we can do to sustain and hopefully keep going,” said Poli.

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