SUMMIT, NJ - On any normal day in downtown Summit, the streets would be filled with shoppers and traffic would be on the border of chaos.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic upon us, these times are quite far from normal and, as you walk through the town, it appears like a ghost town with a few residents walking around in masks to pick up their orders. Small businesses have had to adjust in unprecedented ways to these unprecedented times.
Many businesses have looked to curbside pickup during these times to continue service while minimizing risk of physical interaction with customers. Stores from pizza places to the Summit Health Shoppe have put signs out on the sidewalk to make customers aware of this. Customers call to place an order and the store leaves that order with the customers name on it on the curb for pickup.
Summit Health Shoppe owner, Tushar Patel said,”We have switched to curbside pickup. Without this option, I’m not sure if we could continue business in an effective way.”
The risk factors aren’t the only thing store owners have to worry about. With the 8 PM curfew lawfully integrated in the state of New Jersey, stores have had to cut hours significantly to stay within the boundaries given by the law.
Summit’s largely famous ice cream shop, Magic Fountain, which has already had to create a website in response to the pandemic and only take online orders, has seen a significant drop in sales largely due to these new hours.
Owner, Hugo Degidio said,“There is no doubt that we get the majority of our sales after 8. We are still getting a decent amount of sales in the afternoon, but not nearly as much as we were getting. We have no choice but to continue business and take what we can get.”
Despite all the changes the stores have been forced to make in response to this pandemic, customers still appear to be on edge when it comes to ordering from stores in town. Summit resident and financial advisor, Eric LeGoff said,”You just don’t know. This virus spreads and people get it without their knowledge. They may be walking around symptom free and handling our food. My family then picks up that food and we all eat it. Now we all have it and it is nobody’s fault but ours really.”
Regardless of all the changes small businesses have made to respond to this pandemic, there is no doubt that it has instilled fear in residents in every way and that has drastically affected business in Summit as a whole.
That has, in some cases, resulted in an uptick in sales for some products. Patel said,”We have seen a dramatic increase in vitamins. We are almost out of Zinc, Vitamin C products and elderberry.” This is almost certainly due to the fear of Summit residents and the desire to be as healthy as possible to decrease risk of contracting the virus.
There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the city of Summit and its small businesses in an almost unfathomable way, but the show must go on. Stores will continue to be there for residents and hopes that the residents can return the favor.
Degidio said,”we have always been there for our customers. We work very hard to provide for them in different ways and we hope that our customers can help us out now that we are in need. Any support helps, whether it is spreading our new ways of service or ordering online. We appreciate it more than people know.”
Kyle Standing is a Summit High School Class of 2019 grad and current student at the University of Rhode Island.