Local business owners depend on strong sales all holiday season to survive a marketplace changed by COVID-19 (LIVE UPDATES)

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Hurt by pandemic, local retailers say shopping local this season more important than ever

Tee Mart Decorated Apparel owners Michael Trailer and Renee Matsushima pose for a photo inside their shop, which is located at 1445 W. Morse Ave. in Rogers Park, Saturday afternoon, Nov. 28, 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Small business owners feeling the pain of the pandemic in their bottom lines say it’s never been more important to shop local this holiday season.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are considered the biggest shopping events of the year for big-box and online retailers, but local entrepreneurs look forward to the day wedged between the two — Small Business Saturday.

The event encourages shopping local and supporting independent operations, and it’s usually one of the busiest days of the year for these retailers.

While the day is important, local business owners said they were counting on strong sales all season to help them survive in a marketplace where everything has changed.

Scott Starbuck, who opened City Soles in Wicker Park in 1995, said sales at his shoe store were down exponentially because of the coronavirus — and he worries they won’t be bouncing back soon.

“We won’t even be able to see recovery until a vaccine [is available] and we can say things like, ‘Socially distancing was so last year,’” said Starbuck, who imports his footwear from Europe and South American and also sells jewelry and other handmade goods from local artists.

Read the full story from Madeline Kenney here.


News

9:32 a.m. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tests positive for coronavirus

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is at home recovering after testing positive for COVID-19, his office announced Saturday.

Dart last worked Nov. 19, began feeling symptoms the next day and then immediately self-quarantined, according to a statement from Dart’s office.

He was tested Tuesday and received results Friday confirming he had contracted the virus, the sheriff’s office said.

Dart remains symptomatic and is under the care of a physician while recovering at home, the sheriff’s office said. He is unsure how he was infected.

Read the full story here.


New Cases


Analysis & Commentary

10:29 a.m. Making the case for standardized school tests, even during a pandemic

To test or not to test during a pandemic?

School districts in Illinois and across the country are waiting to learn whether states will be allowed to request waivers from federally mandated standardized tests next spring because of COVID-19.

Waivers, to our thinking, would be the wrong move. The next U.S. secretary of education, in the incoming Biden administration, should say no to the idea, something a handful of states already have done.

We understand the arguments against administering standardized tests as usual during a year that has been anything but usual. The essence of the criticism, principally made by national teachers unions and anti-testing advocates, is that it would be a logistics nightmare for schools to test students in-person during a public health crisis.

And given the well-documented shortcomings of remote learning, a severe lack of actual learning likely would be revealed in plummeting — and perhaps unreliable — test scores.

“The vast majority of parents and teachers think it’s ridiculous to believe that you can get meaningful results from a standardized test in the middle of a pandemic,” as Bob Schaeffer of FairTest, a national organization that has raised questions in general about high-stakes testing, told Politico recently.

Read the full column from the CST Editorial Board here.

9:14 a.m. COVID-19 forces the question: How can we keep from warehousing the elderly?

Every once in a while, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, says something I absolutely agree with.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he went on and on about how every human life matters. I prayed: If he means this, maybe we can see that reflected in our politics. As it happens, with all the death this year, my friends in the religious order Sisters of Life tell me that some pregnant women are rejecting abortion because the last thing we need is more death.

Wouldn’t a newfound commitment to protecting human life be something healthy to come from the COVID-19 ordeal?

But we seem to be heading in the wrong direction.

The Associated Press recently reported on the staggering number of Americans dying in nursing homes during the pandemic, not just from the coronavirus, but from neglect.

“As more than 90,000 of the nation’s long-term care residents have died in a pandemic that has pushed staffs to the limit,” the AP reports, “advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has quietly claimed tens of thousands more, often because overburdened workers haven’t been able to give them the care they need.”

Read the full column here.



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