Glen Ellyn, La Grange small businesses look to turn COVID-19 into transformative moment

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (WLS) -- Small businesses are the backbones of the communities we live in, and they're having to find new ways to continue operating and stay connected to their customers during the coronavirus crisis.

"I am working about 150 percent harder to get money coming in," said Julie Spiller, owner of Gather & Collect vintage store in downtown Glen Ellyn.

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"Beyond cash flow, which is certainly a huge concern, there is so much to learn. All the social media platforms," said Janet Avila, owner of String Theory Yarn Company in downtown Glen Ellyn. "We have tried Facebook Live, and I am legendary now for doing a sideways Facebook Live."

Chef Marco Conte only knows what it's like to run a restaurant during the pandemic. He opened Marco's Kitchen last month in La Grange, with his life savings on the line.

"It was either dive in head first or sink, and we decided to dive in head first," he said.

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The gamble is paying off. Marco's Kitchen offers dinners and produce bags for curbside pick up.

"Our dining room is very small, so we are actually doing four times the amount of business that we can do with a dining room," Conte said.

Directors of suburban business associations and alliances are embracing this time of change, trying to make sure their local shop owners are not forgotten.

"We are doing social media and learning along the way. We are maximizing it the best we can," said Carol White, executive director of Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn. "We have to be quicker and more nimble than ever. No idea is a bad idea."

"The small businesses define what your community is," said Nancy Cummings, executive director of the La Grange Business Association. "We are at a point in history where people have the ability to decide what their community is going to look like moving forward."
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