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 Groomer Nickie Weingart works with Max, a fox terrier, at All American Pet Resort in Royal Oak June 5.

Groomer Nickie Weingart works with Max, a fox terrier, at All American Pet Resort in Royal Oak June 5.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Small businesses share struggles due to shutdown

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Royal Oak Review | Published June 9, 2020

 Jeff Goldsmith, owner of Joe’s Army Navy Surplus, stands in the Clawson store after it reopened May 28.

Jeff Goldsmith, owner of Joe’s Army Navy Surplus, stands in the Clawson store after it reopened May 28.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Assistant Manager Alicia Champine stands outside All American Pet Resort in Royal Oak June 5. The Royal Oak location was the only store out of the five in Michigan that remained open, due to its proximity to Beaumont Hospital.

Assistant Manager Alicia Champine stands outside All American Pet Resort in Royal Oak June 5. The Royal Oak location was the only store out of the five in Michigan that remained open, due to its proximity to Beaumont Hospital.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Joe’s Army Navy Surplus is on the third round of ordering masks. Gas masks, which are usually available for sale, remain sold out.

Joe’s Army Navy Surplus is on the third round of ordering masks. Gas masks, which are usually available for sale, remain sold out.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — The small business world came skidding to a halt in mid-March when state shutdown orders severely limited the way they could provide services. On June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a phased approach at reopening most retailers.

A full return to the way things were pre-COVID-19 is still a long way off, but two local businesses — All American Pet Resort in Royal Oak and Joe’s Army Navy Surplus in Clawson — shared how they managed and continue to serve their communities.

All American Pet Resort Head Manager Nicole Lees said the Royal Oak location was the only store out of the five in Michigan that remained open due to its proximity to Beaumont Hospital.

Many doctors, nurses and health care workers working long shifts to fight COVID-19, as well as those in the national guard deployed to help distribute aid, housed their dogs at the pet resort, Lees said.

“COVID-19 affected us a lot. We ended up having to lay off 90% of our staff and managers,” Lees said. “Our doors are still locked, but we stayed open and offered curbside service. We weren’t making enough money to stay open, but the owners wanted us to stay open for Beaumont Hospital”

She said staff retrieves dogs using social distancing measures, disinfects the leashes when bringing them in and out of the building, and requires that owners wear face masks. All staff must also wear face masks and do extra cleaning, and the business is currently installing plexiglass shields in the reception area.

“We can hold up to 220 dogs. Our day care went down a lot, and our numbers dropped probably about 80% because of COVID,” Lees said. “Our grooming just ended up opening up.”

Unfortunately, she said, staff has seen quite a few dogs come in with matted fur and overgrown nails.

“It’s sad,” she said. “A lot of dogs’ nails are painfully curled under. They can do without a haircut, but when animals’ fur gets matted, it pulls on the skin and we’ve seen quite a few dogs with blotchy skin.”

Lees said business is still slow, but continues to pick up week by week as more people want to get back out.

“We’re trying,” she said.

Both All American Pet Resort and Jeff’s Army Navy Surplus received federal Paycheck Protection Program funding, which they credited with helping keep employees on the payroll.

Jeff Goldsmith, owner of Joe’s Army Navy Surplus in Clawson, said the store officially reopened May 28, only allowing up to 10 people with face masks inside the store. While closed, he said, online sales greatly increased in March and April, but overall revenue was significantly down. In March, he said the store sold 850 bandanas.

He said both Clawson and Waterford locations slashed their hours and now open at 11 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. to allow for cleaning and restocking.

“We are requiring masks. We’ve gotten some pushback on that, primarily from those who have medical conditions, but we have to do what we have to do,” Goldsmith said. “We also put up sneeze guards, and we’ve got social distancing things on the floor, but what’s really been heartening is we have a number of people calling and coming in, and everybody seems to be happy that we’re open.”

In a normal season, he said, the store sells a lot of camping gear and works with summer camps, but with the recent announcement that the bans on day camps and state campgrounds are slated to be lifted June 8 (after press time) and June 22, respectively, sales are much lower than usual.

“Now, we sell a tremendous amount of masks, whether it’s the surgical masks or the military-style masks — we sell all the different (branches of the military) patterns,” Goldsmith said. “We’ve probably sold thousands of masks the last few weeks. We didn’t even sell them in the past, but masks now are kind of ubiquitous.”

The store, he said, also sold out of gas masks and filters.

“With all of the unpleasantness downtown, security companies have bought a lot of the stuff for their guards, and just individuals coming in, so we’re wiped out of anything having to do with security or that people could use for protests,” he said.

The store sells work boots, work clothing, first-aid kits, medical gear, food kits and other survival products.

“We’re basically a prepper store before there was such a thing as a prepper,” Goldsmith said. “We’ll make it through this. We’re survivors, and we have our niches.”

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