Small businesses in Illinois anxious to reopen as stay-at-home orders continue

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GENOA CITY, Wi. —Restaurants and bars are reopening in Wisconsin as the state supreme court struck down the governor’s stay-at-home order. It’s a different world there than in nearby Illinois communities south of the state line.

Amid the expanses of green fields and farm land of northwest McHenry County, there sits the cozy hamlet of Richmond. The population is 1,874 with a picturesque Main Street but things are nasty and ugly these days.

Cindy O’Brien has owned her hair salon business, Genesis, for more than two decades —these days she has no bottom line.

Her neighbor Gina Garbis and husband Jerry own and operate the Richmond Brat Haus. With carry out orders, they are at 25% of where they should be — a place that should have two dozen employees down to a handful. They moved from Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood and put their life savings in the best place three years ago.

Garbis has a message for the governor and his restore Illinois plan: “He has his plate very full but Illinois is a big state so I’m hoping he has capacity to think beyond the city and look at the rest of us just trying to conduct business.”

McHenry County is categorized in the Northeast Region along with Cook County.

There is a push by a collection of 25 mayors in McHenry County to ask the governor to make its own region or move it over to the North Central Region.

Diana Reed’s Harper G Mercantile sells a little bit of this and a little bit of that. She’s also a longtime business woman in Illinois. In the craziness that is the COVID-19 darkness, she’s praying to make it to the dawn of recovery. She also sells plants she tried to appeal to have her business categorized as essential, but she was denied. She said the store is hanging by a thread.

At Doyle’s Pub you’ll find Jeanne who was forced to close just before St. Patrick’s Day. She’s still sitting on the 1,700 pounds of corned beef. She hopes the governor lets them reopen by Memorial Day.


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