Some businesses working, some are struggling

Mike Anglin, owner with his wife Camille of Jack’s Marine, is getting home only every two days or so.

He sleeps at the building on Bridge Street in a small bedroom. When he gets home he gets cleaned up in an outside shower and shaves. “And I feel like a human being again,” he said.

Mr. Anglin is taking precautions at Jack’s — customers call ahead for curbside service or knock on the door and let him know what they want through the glass — and precautions at home. “We all have to be careful,” he said, noting that his daughter Kimberly is pregnant, so there’s an extra incentive to be committed to social distancing and extra hygienic habits.

Kimberly is due on May 11, which is Mike and Camille’s anniversary. He admits to being worried about his daughter during this time of a rapidly spreading virus, but his joy overcomes any fears.

“It will be a great day,” he said.

Jack’s is a combination hardware, toy and craft store, perfect for browsing, but Mr. Anglin won’t let folks in, even in limited numbers. “This place has so many little nooks and crannies it wouldn’t work,” he said.

Business has been good, however. Isolation has reminded many people of that “to-do list” they’ve been putting off. He’s selling a lot of paint, for example.

“It’s not just getting it done, but it’s to do something,” he said. “Like the activity of finally getting around to fixing that old chair or painting the bathroom.”

With kids at home, puzzles and toys are big sellers, as well. He described the craft section of Jack’s as a godsend to people in the throes of cabin fever. “We’re selling a lot of pot-holder making kits and all other kinds of crafty things,” he added.

Jack’s also had the most unusual window display in its history of stacked rolls of toilet paper.

“We’ve also got bleach and paper towels, gloves and masks,” he said.

He hasn’t sold much marine supplies, but that might change with Gov. Cuomo’s order opening marinas this week.

Mr. Anglin believes merchants during this time have a commitment to their community. “We’re all in this together, all helping each other,” he added.

Marika Kaasik, owner of Marika’s Eclectic Boutique is also keeping busy. Her shop on South Ferry Road is closed, but since many items in her antique and second-hand furniture business are outside, people are taking photos of what they want and sending them to her. She then has several digital methods for payment.

A selection of garden statues at Marika’s on South Ferry Road. (Credit: Carol Galligan)

“I’ve got signs up to not touch anything that you’re not going to buy,” Ms. Kaasik said.

Sales of any kind of office equipment is brisk. “So many people are working from home now,” she said. “I’ve sold a lot of desks, file cabinets, anything to do with an office.”

Large garden pots have also been big sellers. “People get bored and want to get out and do something,” she said.

Her brother John Kaasik, who owns the taxi service on the Island, has been hit hard by the shutdown, Ms. Kaasik said. He’s closed the business for now “No one wants to get into a taxi and he wouldn’t want to pick anyone up,” she said, noting people’s fears of infection.

Other businesses are hurting, she said. Ms. Kaasik is also in the real estate business and that’s not doing well, she said, because there are restrictions on showing properties to prospective buyers and renters.

Mr. Anglin and Ms. Kaasik are two of the more fortunate business owners during the pandemic, said Art Williams, secretary and treasurer of the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce.

“People are struggling,” he said.

One indication of the toll the shutdown on state-designated non-essential businesses has been is the scarcity of advertising orders being written by the Chamber for its map of the Island, distributed widely during the summer season.

Those providing professional services are doing well, he said, since closing an office doesn’t affect them greatly. Staffs can work from home, he said. But the restaurant business is another story.

“They are going above and beyond, providing service to the community,” Mr. Williams said, with home delivery and curbside service. “But they’re not really making any money on that, except for places that did a lot of takeout to begin with, like Maria’s Kitchen,” he said, referencing the restaurant in the Center. “Some places closed and didn’t even bother to do takeout.”

The Chamber has stayed in contact with its members, Mr. Williams said, to “keep them aware of the opportunities of borrowing funds, and letting them know about the Small Business Administration’s tools that can help.”

The Chamber is also working with members to help employers aiding employees to file unemployment benefits, which had a slow and glitch-filled roll out.

Everyone in business on the Island can agree with Ms. Kaasik. “Summer’s coming,” she said. “We’re all hoping this will be over soon.”