Bates: McHenry businesses adapt to COVID-19 pandemic

I am very proud of McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce members who, when faced with the COVID-19 shutdown, tweaked their organizations to continue reaching out to existing and prospective clients.

The Chamber shares these ideas to help others, starting with Hands to Home Crafted. Known for her crafting parties, owner Nicole Fitzgerald developed special kits for families. Starting at $10, these craft kits provide hours of family fun, and the final product will be passed from generation to generation.

Then there is Robert Gibbons, marketing director at Above Par Construction and Remodeling. Gibbons has invented a Contactless Inspection Program, creative and perfect for these times.

The largest portion of Mary Ellen Heelan’s music business, Heelan Music, provides music therapy to hospice and dementia patients. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 concerns, Heelan can’t see patients, so she started Zoom music therapy sessions. Patients love this!

While sheltering in place with their children, the Santos family created a Facebook page, McHenry Be Good, that shares the fun that families can have together. Clients and friends enjoy seeing the antics of the Santos family.

Geri Condon, owner of the counseling firm Capture Your Path, supplies advice and encouragement on her Facebook page for those affected by this period of isolation.  

Wayne Jett of the McHenry Downtown Theater wasn’t discouraged by the business’ shutdown, but he used his ingenuity to develop revenue through fun movie packages for customers to enjoy a movie experience at home. For your information, they are delivered!

Connie Perez of Aesthetics Boutique offers free doorstep delivery in McHenry County. In addition, she provides personal shopping virtual appointments. There’s no excuse for not shopping here; she makes it easy! 

Victoria Warren of Above the Barre is not stopped by the shutdown. Two to three times a week, Warren hosts live classes on Instagram. As an extra advantage for students, she often reads bedtime stories online.  

Anita Camara of Porte Brown LLC has provided specialists from her organization to help small companies navigate the multiple federal and local programs available with their risks and potential.  

Jacqueline Lecher, a trainer with Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate, has found that Google Meet is a game changer for her business. She usually travels nationally, but now she is able to keep training through virtual meetings in her home office.  

Janet Domrase of Alden’s Kennels is picking up furry friends for seniors for veterinarian treatment and grooming appointments, as well as day care. 

When grocery stores ran out of meat, Hub Market promoted its deli as a problem-solver for meat and poultry purchases.  

Kenny Schroeder has adapted his company, Kenny’s Floor Covering, for the times. He refurbished one of his delivery vans so shoppers can select their new carpeting or flooring from the van – all at a safe distance.

Stephanie Conley of Steph’s Bookkeeping Services took a risk before the stay-at-home order. In March, with the realization of what was coming, Conley reduced her fees for nonessential clients with the recognition that her clients were walking through a difficult season financially.

Conley also noted that her clients had questions, so she developed a podcast called “Ask the Bookkeeper.”

Stacey Brown of New York Life has worked to stay connected with her clients, new and prospective, through social media.

“It’s not about selling now,” Brown said. “It’s about helping others.”

Kristina Hosticka of Simple Solutions VAS loves meeting for coffee with prospective clients, but since the stay-at-home order began, she found that using Zoom meetings has been a cost-effective tool.

However, “meeting on Zoom is no replacement for meeting in person,” Hosticka said.

In addition to staying positive during this difficult season, Hosticka journals every day about something she is grateful for.  

OrthoGO Physical Therapy, operated by Scott Schultz, continues to serve patients through the COVID-19 crisis by wearing a mask, gloves and sanitizing everything. 

The UPS Store in McHenry has developed 11-inch-by-17-inch window signs complimentary for area businesses to remind their customers that they need to be wearing a mask.

American ingenuity at its best! These businesses will be remembered!

• Kay Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

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