Can virtual connections drive business? COVID-19 closures force Chicago-area companies to rethink old ways

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With businesses forced to temporarily close their doors during Illinois' "stay-at-home' order, many small businesses are going virtual.

Natasha Buffalo prepares virtual workouts and private meal preparation for her clients of Body By Ivory in Homewood.

"This virtual thing is going to be something really different," said Ivory Lofton of Body By Ivory.

Lofton has had the health and fitness center for 29 years. He said with clients staying home, a virtual connection is critical to keep them healthy.

"What we have here is totally different than what they have at home, but it's keeping them active which is important at this time," Lofton said.

Companies that had relied on face-to-face contact are finding the virtual connection is just as important for customers, and for keeping business going.

"It's been amazing. I have to make up for all this lost income and it's been a great experience," said Chrishon Lampley of Love Cork Screw.

Lampley is a wine negociant in Chicago and her line of locally sourced wines are sold often through tastings. So now, they're doing taking those tastings online.

The wines are sent to customers, then at the designated time, they join the group online.

"When I see people set up, they have tables, they have fruits and nuts. They are making it a full-on experience," Lampley said.

Lampley's first two virtual wine tastings sold out. She expects to always offer a virtual option, as clients can join from anywhere from the comfort of their own homes.
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