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 Dave Kupinski, who co-owns D&P Auto Services in Roseville with his wife, Cindy Kupinski, shows off some of the orange gloves he and his staff have been wearing as a precaution against the COVID-19 virus as they clean the hot rods.

Dave Kupinski, who co-owns D&P Auto Services in Roseville with his wife, Cindy Kupinski, shows off some of the orange gloves he and his staff have been wearing as a precaution against the COVID-19 virus as they clean the hot rods.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Roseville/Eastpointe business community reacts to coronavirus pandemic

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 20, 2020

 Jenna Rucinski works the carryout window at the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in Eastpointe. Restaurants and bars such as Cloverleaf are limited to takeout and delivery service — no dining in — by order of the governor to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Jenna Rucinski works the carryout window at the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in Eastpointe. Restaurants and bars such as Cloverleaf are limited to takeout and delivery service — no dining in — by order of the governor to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROSEVILLE/EASTPOINTE — In every community around Michigan, there is an eerie stillness where, not long ago, there was hustle and bustle: School desks sit empty, barstools grow cold, store shelves lie bare.

But don’t be fooled. While the world may be hunkered down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some local businesses are alive and open, waiting to serve their neighbors any way they can during this crisis.

With hopes of slowing down the spread of the disease, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined with several other states last week and ordered wide-reaching lockdowns on a variety of businesses, from bars and restaurants to fitness studios and beyond.

The aim is to stop folks from congregating in large numbers and potentially passing along the virus at a speed that could put a major strain on the region’s medical resources.

That means, though, that local businesses are suffering their own ailments. Without the resources and financial backing of stakeholders to lean on, those small, independent operations face not just diminished revenue, but potential layoffs, missed vendor payments or maybe worse.

Legislators and business associations at every level are doing what they can to lessen the blow to those businesses, but what those merchants really need now is support — from customers and each other.

“I’m so proud to see the state’s small business resources rally together in this time of crisis. The stories we are hearing from the small businesses affected by COVID-19 are devastating,” Michigan Small Business Development Center State Director J.D. Collins said in a prepared statement.

Shining a spotlight on community-based organizations and businesses has never been more important, and that’s where the Demers family feels like they can do their part to help during the pandemic. As the owners of C & G Newspapers, with 19 publications dedicated to hyperlocal news coverage and advertising, the family feels a huge responsibility to keep residents informed about what is going on in their own backyard, said Managing Editor Gregg Demers.

“I think every business person feels the same way — they’re all pitching in to get everyone through this terrible crisis. That’s when we really see the best in people,” he said. “I’m so pleased with the response from all our employees, and how dedicated they are to getting the job done and keeping readers connected to their community and informed about what’s happening where they live. I think that’s the role we can play to help get through this, and it’s an important one.”

D&P Auto Services in Roseville is one local business adapting to the coronavirus crisis.

“Customers need their cars,” remarked Cindy Kupinski, co-owner of D&P Auto Services. “They still need to go back and forth to wherever. We also are inundated with hot rods, because we deal with classic cars. We have a lot of people getting their muscle cars and so forth, and that hasn’t slowed down. People are staying optimistic and preparing to have their cars ready for the cruises and everything in the summer.”

“People still need to get to the grocery store, and there are first responders who still need to get to work. They can’t exactly work from home,” added husband and co-owner Dave Kupinski.

Dave Kupinski said they are trying to balance safety with maintaining the friendly, neighborly attitude that they’ve become known for over the years.

“We try to keep everything as normal as we can. We are taking precautions — we clean (the cars) before we get in them, and we clean them before we give them back. We’re a mom-and-pop shop, so we want to remain calm and inviting, but we’re making sure everyone keeps their distance and wears gloves and everything.”

“We take measures like making sure they’re not handing us their credit cards and just swiping themselves,” Cindy Kupinski added.

Complicating matters is that many businesses, especially smaller local businesses, feel as though they can’t afford to close down for even one or two weeks, because they don’t have the financial cushion to lose that revenue.

“Unless ordered by the state or something, we don’t plan on closing down,” said Cindy Kupinski. “I think there is extra pressure for local businesses to stay open. We and our employees don’t have an income if we close down. If there’s no cars, there’s no income, and I’m sure this is a common concern for local businesses like ours.”

Restaurants and bars were hit particularly hard in Michigan after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered them to remain closed for business, except for delivery and takeout service, on March 16.

“It was very sudden,” said Marie Guerra Easterby, the owner of the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in Eastpointe. “It was not something we expected, and it has been difficult to see our employees without jobs. We’re thankful we’re still able to provide carryout service. We have marginal, minimal staff here, and we are seeing how things go.”

Cloverleaf is taking extra health precautions as it maintains its limited takeout service.

“We have a walk-up window at the patio where we can just hand people (their food) through the window so they don’t have to enter the building and can maintain minimal contact,” Guerra Easterby explained. “We will see how things go; if adjusting things means closing, we will, but we’re trying to stay positive.”

She said that these closures will have an impact on people’s lives, since there are many employees not getting paid because they are not working, and businesses are taking in less money because of having fewer people going out.

“We’re trying to stay positive and make some good out of bad and hope that things will return to normal soon,” said Guerra Easterby. “We still have to make our payments, and even though our payments to employees are down, our revenue is way down too.”