© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Non-essential businesses staying essential to customers

Mike Desmond

Kids at home are supposed to be home doing school work, replicating what they might be doing back in the classroom. Adults may be at home, waiting for their businesses to reopen. Both are finding ways to keep connected in this era of coronavirus.

If kids need arts supplies for their homework, the phone and the web are available. So is Hyatt's, a superstore of creativity recently moved to North Buffalo.

"It's a lot of beginner art sets and kits geared toward either beginning artists of children. Some of it is people that are trying to keep the kids occupied. Another portion is just individuals, maybe they enjoyed art when they were younger and now they have a bunch of time since they are either staying at home or they're working from home," said Purchasing Director Seth Martin.

Martin said the retail store is closed for the time being. He said that can get complicated for college art students.

"The biggest challenge customers are normally more at the college level, because they tend to be a lot more specific about what they need. Where, generally at the elementary and middle and high school level, it's generally more of a generic product, with a lot of different brands you can substitute in relatively easily."

Perhaps you need a break from social isolation. A toy could be an alternative.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The Treehouse Toy Store is still on Elmwood Avenue, as it has been for almost a quarter of a century, but the front door is locked because the store isn't essential. Instead, Treehouse's web presence is keeping it in the marketplace and providing for families. Delivery is also available.

Co-owner Gaetana Schueckler said she gets a lot of phone calls for advice.

"At home for the whole day, with the children and teenagers and infants and they are trying to find the right balance of having to educate them at home, keep them busy at home, stick to a schedule and, also, at the same time take care of themselves," she said.

Schueckler said a game can often calm a rough situation down and link up various members of a family. She said there has been renewed interest in puzzles, too.

"It's really nice to have someone on the phone where an older child or a college-age child is home with the parent and they're discussing what type of  puzzle imagery they would like to get," Schueckler said. "I can't tell you the last time that happened."

Whether the kids are distance learning or adults just have extra time on their hands, bookstores aren't considered essential but are necesssary.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Talking Leaves owner Jonathon Welch in the Elmwood Village has to apply for a listing as essential and is operating a mail-order and web-based business while waiting.

"We're hoping that we will be able to be exempt and be considered essential," he said. "What that would mean is that we would be able to do what we were doing before Sunday night's closure, which is that we could deliver books and we could hand them to people at the curb, like restaurants are doing."

Welch said buyers have been interested in what's going on around us.

"A lot of interest in Camus' The Plague, a book called the influenza epidemic or something which is, I think, on the 1918 flu, and there's another one with plague in the title that I'm not remembering right now," Welch said, "but, yeah, there is clearly a lot of interest in that and also in sort of government stuff about how we've dealt with crises like this in the past and economic crises."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Related Content