'Dorothy Effect' reminded shoppers 'there's no place like home,' keeping Main Street afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

Main Street businesses may have taken a hit this year but owners say they have the community to thank for staying afloat during the pandemic,.

Small business revenue was down 30% in Cook County.

"We have seen less foot traffic," said Mica Mahler, Cook, Cork & Fork/Downtown Palatine Business Association, President

In Palatine, the owners of Cook Cork and Fork said business was down 40% but it would have been worse if residents hadn't shown up to support their local small businesses around the holidays.

"Now there is a little more time for people to focus on supporting their community," said Mahler.

Members of the Downtown Palatine Business Association are working on projects to bring customers into their stores. They ultimately hope to attract new retail to fill vacancies.

Tahnee Panayi opened Shoppe The Mill just months before the shutdown.

She said customers really responded when she hosted pop up events with some of her local makers and artisans.

"I definitely hope that this community feel continues, my hope is that we get some more businesses some more shops," said Panayi

In Flossmoor the Village's downtown got a couple of new tenants during the pandemic like Thairapy Beauty and Wellness, which opened in October.

"It was a big leap of faith for me" said Rita Barnes, owner of Thairapy Beauty and Wellnes.

Barnes said even though they had to shut down shortly after they opened, loyal customers came back.

"Once we were able to reopen business started to boom again," said Barnes.

Longtime Flossmoor resident Don Goens said he made sure to support local businesses.

"Local businesses also support the schools in the community and they support employment in the community," Goens said.

"We feel very blessed that they have supported us, I'm like tearing up," said Maureen Mader, Dunning's Market/Flossmoor Business Association, President

Mader calls it the "Dorothy Effect" as residents saw during the pandemic "there was no place like home" to spend their money.

"There's a million Don Goens in this neighborhood and we are really, really lucky to have them here because they are why we are still here and we are very grateful," said Mader.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.