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Pandemic impacts Rochester retailers in both positive and negative ways

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- There are some things you need to touch, feel and maybe even sit on to know if you want to hand over the credit card; but in these pandemic times, that hasn't been happening as much.

"It's been rather tough," Hanny's Buyer Salesman Thomas Kramer said.

Brick and mortar shops, like Hanny's located in downtown Rochester's underground subway, have been through a lot in the past year. From temporarily closing, to opening up again with new safety restrictions or maybe even closing for good.

"The traffic is probably down by about 75 percent," Kramer said. "It's mostly the locals that we're missing out on. Small businesses like us, relied on the local traffic and it's been a combination of COVID and construction."

As one of the Med City's oldest retailers, Hanny's worked to maintain some normalcy Friday by greeting guests at its annual "sidewalk sale." A long standing tradition that's been around for more than 20 years.

Kramer hopes real normalcy is right around the corner.

"Moving forward, what we're hoping for is getting a lot of the people back downtown that work for Mayo Clinic, etc; and that they will be our bread and butter going forward," he said. "We're very thankful for our guests that come from all around the U.S. and the world, but we sure would welcome our locals back downtown. Hopefully, the city would accommodate with parking and so on. It would be very beneficial to our business and all of the other businesses downtown. We are a family."

Meanwhile, across town, another locally owned business says the lack of traffic, has brought in more business than ever before.

"We've stayed record setting all winter," Furniture Superstore Bedding Manager Rod Moen said.

Rod estimates Furniture Superstore sales are up at least 30 percent. He thinks part of that is due to other forms of entertainment closing down from the pandemic.

"We eliminated most other costly fun things that we do in the summer," Moen said. "Graduation party money went to furniture, vacation money went to furniture, travel money went to furniture, stimulus money went to furniture, unemployment money went to furniture. People have money to spend and have no where else to spend it besides what's underneath you at home right now."

But, excess business comes with a cost, too.

"We have companies that are out until Labor Day," Moen said.

While more business and record breaking sales -- including the highest ever January to date -- have allowed the furniture store to hire and employ more people, orders are backed up. Moen says even if the store sold its last couch Thursday, it would take nine months to fill that order.

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Beret Leone

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