College kids not coming to campus will be tough for businesses and restaurants

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – Business owners in Uptown Normal, say they are trying to prepare for a less than ideal fall. With COVID-19 forcing many of their classes online, some say they don’t want to come back. Which means, some places will struggle to find employees, and for others, it means, items may never leave the shelves.

Heather Young, Owner of OhmFit Activewear, says fall semester is a time she enjoys, knowing she’ll have a line of students applying to work at her store. However, when the pandemic hit back in mid-march, that line started dwindling.

“One of my regular good girls went on spring break and she never came back,” said Young. “She lived in the Chicago area and, because they cancelled the rest of classes here on campus, she went home for break and she stayed home.”

That story is not unique, as this was the norm for several uptown businesses in the spring. But now its fall, and many students are still declining to come back.

“There’s a lot of restaurants, coffeeshops and bars,” said Young. “They are going to feel the impact not just as employees but their going to be feeling it from their sales.”

One of those places, the CoffeeHouse, is also having to adjust.

“We have a lot of students that come in here during the school year, we see business pick up tremendously,” said Sidney Dunning, Barista at CoffeeHouse. “They’re spending time in our booths, studying for hours on end, coming back up getting another coffee until closing time.”

Many say it will be a less than ideal time for businesses, but if they’ve learned anything since initially shutting down in mid-march, it’s how to pivot.

“Businesses are very adept at turning on a dime,” said Young. “So it might be a bad thing but we will make the best of it. A lot of us are still going to be here when this is said and done, and we cant wait to greet ISU when they come back for real next time.”

Other businesses are planning to combat the changes by improving their online presence or changing their store hours.

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