Peoria’s Main Street businesses struggle to stay afloat without professional workers downtown

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Janey Scott said almost 80% of her business’s revenue came from nearby Caterpillar employees before the pandemic.

Almost two years into the pandemic, those employees are still working from home.

“It’s been a real struggle for downtown. Every month we’re hoping they are coming back, and it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully, in January they will,” said Scott, owner of the Nut House.

In business for more than 100 years, the Nut House is a Peoria staple. Scott said nostalgia has helped drive customers to make up for the lack of professional clientele.

“One of the things that has truly kept us afloat is the people that truly remember us down here,” said Scott.

A few doors down at Cookies by Design, owner Tom Dunne said safety is his number one concern.

“I think we’re the only place in Peoria that runs a retail operation with our front door locked, and that is due to daily violence on the sidewalks,” he said.

Dunne said its gotten to the point he has to walk his customers to their cars. He said five businesses closed on Main St. just this year.

“The block is going backwards,” he said. “It’s been devastating trying to sell a product with a locked front door. It’s bad. It really is.”

Scott said this winter is going to be tough if professionals continue to work remotely.

“It’s really going to be hard come January [and] February because when it’s cold, people don’t like to go out and there’s [not] people downtown,” she said.

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