The small business landscape in Buffalo has changed for the short term, and most likely for the longterm. With social distancing in effect, some restaurants are relying on take-out and delivery, while retail is under wraps. Feel-good stories can be few and far between. But they are out there.
Grocery stores may be open, but even those businesses are experiencing waves of uncertainty, as customers battle it out over toilet paper.
Since the onset of COVID-19, I have been hearing more and more inspirational stories about people and their pets. Since workers are now staying at home, they have bonded even more with their cats, their dogs, and other pets. It’s hard to tell who is more spoiled, the pets or their people.
To get a better feel of the situation at hand, I decided to call John Higgins, owner of Elmwood Pet Supplies (EPS) on Elmwood Avenue, a business that has been around since 1947. John and his brother Tom purchased the business in 1986. Interestingly, they are of the belief that the shop is the oldest, still operating, pet store in the country!
How is business during these uncertain times?
Business has been better than usual, between deliveries and pick-ups at our outdoor counter. People call in orders or tell us what they need outside. They just pull up and we place their orders in their cars.
How do they pay?
We have wireless card processors, Venmo, and PayPal.
Delivery business is good?
We make around 30 deliveries per day. Yes, very good.
Are you seeing new customers?
New people are walking up to our outside counter every day.
Aside from dog food and cat food, what are the other best sellers right now?
Toys and dog chew things, and tons of cat litter.
What’s the street scene like?
The street is very quiet, but the sidewalks are still very busy.
What is the mood on the street?
Its seems like people are calm but nervous, and very willing to help those that need it. In one instance, we are delivering supplies to a building with a number of infirm residents – the neighbors are helping to bring the products to their apartments. People want to help.
Is the mood constant, or shifting?
While no one seems sure how this we play out, most seem pretty confident about the outcome.
Is there an instance that you recall that resonates with you?
As one shrewd elderly customers put it – “I can live without toilet paper, but when when the litter is low its DEFCON 5.”
Elmwood Pet Supplies | 706 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222 | (716) 883-1377 | Order online and have it delivered to your door, or pick up your order in front of the shop