Record store adapts to COVID-19

Jack Drobny, Staff Writer

Paige Terry

Small business owners and employees have been hit hard by this devastating worldwide pandemic. Countless shops have closed, and unemployment was at a record high. Homer’s, a famous downtown record store and historical landmarkis adapting in these hard times to survive. 

Early into the pandemic, fears were running high and the future was uncertain. As Covid 19 started to ravage coastal cities in the United States, Homer’s Employee, Olivia Drobny said “it didn’t feel real at first. We were all scared, but long-term employees and people with other jobs were less worried.” Tensions and stress increased as the long spring progressed. 

Around two weeks into the pandemic reaching critical status in the United States, Homer’s made a tough decision. “We shut down on March 14th and the managers called all of the employees to tell them they were being temporarily let go,” she said. “We were all given the opportunity to apply for unemployment while the store was shut down.” This was beneficial to many of the employees who worked full time at the establishment. Stimulus checks, savings and other jobs carried them through the rest of the shutdown period. 

Months later, Homer’s was forced to reopen due to new legislation.“Governor Rickets threatened to stop helping small businesses unless they started offering employees to come back to work,” Drobny said. With increasing coronavirus patients in Omaha as stores started opening, workers were skeptical that the safety conditions were improving. “We didn’t know how long it was going to last.” despite their continued period of being open. 

The reopening of the store proved surprisingly successful, especially when social distancing and quarantining was encouraged. ‘When we first opened up, there were not many customers, but it had started to pick up over the summer,” Drobny said. 

The environment of the shop changed greatly over the stages of the pandemic. The once welcoming and comforting atmosphere has morphed into a darker and quieter state. “All customers talk about now is coronavirus,” Drobny said. 

In reopening of Homer’s, a lot of new rules and precautions were put in place in order to ensure safety for the customers and employees.  “We have a mask requirement, hand sanitizer that customers are required to use, a customer capacity of 10, and employees are required to use a mask too,” Drobny said. All these policies are listed on the outside of the establishment as well. 

With the implementation of these rules, some customers show some resistance. “Customers try to fight us on our policies all the time,” Drobny said. “We have dealt with customers who refuse to use the hand sanitizer, refuse to wear a mask, wear a mask under their nose, and people that pull their mask down to talk to us,” she said.