Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, companies are being categorized aseither “essential” or “nonessential.” Technically, it’s up to cities andstates to decide, according to a Business Insider article. Basically, though,essential businesses are those that people rely on in everyday life, whilenonessential businesses tend to be more recreational.

So, where do aquatic retailers fit in? According to industry insiders, they,along with other pet retailers, should be deemed as an essential businessbecause of the products they carry needed to keep animals healthy. Even ifthese retailers don’t need to close its doors, business isn’t flowing asusual.

Three aquatic retailers weigh in on how their business is being affected bythe pandemic:

Are local fish stores “essential” businesses when it comes to pandemic storeclosure considerations, and how are you coping with restrictions?

“We’re hopeful that pet stores will remain open as an essential servicebecause of the food, medication and supplies we provide that people need tokeep their animals health … but that means we have to do so safely. We have tocreate more distance between staff and consumers. We have to sterilize moresurfaces, all high-touch surfaces. We have to be cleaning constantly. We don’tknow how bad this is. The CDC [Centers for Disease Control & Prevention] saysthat we’ve only had three total months to study this virus. We don’t know whatwe don’t know. We hope what we are doing isn’t an overreaction, and that wewill be coming out of this faster than we think, but we just don’t know.Because we don’t know, it would be foolish not to take these precautions.”—Jim Seidewall , owner of Pet World in Rochester, N.Y., and board member ofthe Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)

“We’re trying to make sure that we are intentionally avoiding servingcustomers’ wants, while still meeting their needs. We have to really focus oncustomers’ needs, to make it clear that we are necessary. Because too often,[aquarium retailers] are thought of as places that satisfy wants and notplaces that meet customers’ needs. We are offering curbside service. We’realso offering controlled in-store service, where we don’t have animal areasaccessible. … We are also offering a delivery service for those who can’t goout. That’s something we’ve added in this time of need. To that extent, we arevulnerable as independent retailers, but we’re also flexible.”— Rick Preuss,owner of Preuss Pets in Lansing, Mich.

“Business is ridiculous right now. It’s an indoor hobby. Everybody has to stayinside. But this topic [the potential for store closures] is on everyone’smind. … I’m just trying to have a good attitude. I am worried because there’sa possibility that we’ll have to close. So, we are already proactivelythinking forward. We know that we have to keep a small skeleton crew to comein and take care of the animals. … What goes through my head is, ethically,are we doing enough to protect customers? Do we want to crowd the store thismuch? So, we decided to shorten our hours. … Also, if any employees don’t wantto be here or feel uncomfortable about it, they can stay home without penalty.… I’m not going to forcibly close because I have a lot of employees thatdepend on me for their livelihood. And, so, I’m trying to decide which is thelesser of two evils.” — Patrick Donston owner of Absolutely Fish in Clifton,N.J.

Source: Pet Product News

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