By Lisa Carolin
(The economic effects of Covid 19 are being felt hard by businesses in Chelsea. Chelsea Update is talking to individual business owners in the area to see how they are coping.
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If you look closely, you will see that the lights are on for at least part of most days at Heydlauff ‘s Appliances, located at 113 N. Main St. in downtown Chelsea. However, the door is locked, and customers can only come into the store by appointment.
The appliance store is deemed an essential business under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order, which is good news for owner Mark Heydlauff.
“We’ve been answering phones and dealing with service questions since the stay-at-home order began,” said Heydlauff. “We’re starting to make appointments for people to come to the showroom and practice CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines- wearing masks, distancing, and having hand sanitizer available.”
Heydlauff says it’s an ever-changing decision how to run the business, and they’re transitioning to be open weekdays, by appointment.
The appliance store is doing more business on the telephone and on its website, which Mark’s son, Jake, the fourth generation Heydlauff to work at the 90-year-old store, is helping to run.
Nevertheless, the preferred method of doing business is for the experienced staff is to interact with customers.
Mark Heydlauff says the biggest selling item during the last month has been freezers because people are buying more food and need more freezer space. Despite owning a warehouse just west of town, he says freezers are the one item they will not have for the next few weeks.
Other appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are also selling.
“More consumers are at home now and using appliances a lot more than in the past,” said Heydlauff, but he adds that installing appliances has been challenging.
“Our install guys aren’t really comfortable being in people’s homes, but we are doing drop-off deliveries for people,” he said. “For our customers’ and my employees’ protection, we have to be cautious. We’re not doing a lot of appliance installations and service calls now.”
Heydlauff cut his staff back to half time, though he sees business starting to pick back up. He says that going into the summer months he has some concern about the availability of appliances in general because manufacturers have had to temporarily close some plants and the whole supply chain has been affected.
“New construction has slowed down and big local projects that were ready for appliances have been delayed, but we’re getting ready for those projects to start again,” he said. “Working within the new normal, we are getting back to business.”