Through the window: Taking a peek inside essential downtown businesses during COVID-19

Oxie Affordable Optical

Oxie Affordable Optical is an independently run optical retail shop in downtown Aurora. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Mia Corriea has been trying to do the best she can in serving her customers under the circumstances. Although eye exams cannot currently take place, Corriea continues to take contact lens orders, offer eyeglass repairs and replacements, and continue to schedule future appointments. One of her greatest challenge is not being able to provide the full service they once gave, particularly with eyeglass fitting. She has implemented curbside pickup, and service is by appointment on weekday mornings. Corriea said she retains her optimism by keeping in mind that eventually things will go back to normal.

Aurora Fastprint

Aurora Fastprint, located in downtown Aurora, has been catering to small businesses and customers in the Fox Valley area since 1976. Owner Kim Granholm said she is making every effort to continue to serve and be there for her customers in the safest and most reliable way possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Granholm has made these efforts by shifting the way she conducts business and amping up marketing tactics. She is now focusing on online promotions and marketing efforts, and revving up their Instagram and Facebook interactions.

The office has changed the way they operate by shifting how many employees are in the office at a time. They also offer delivery and curbside pickup. Granholm said they had to be creative, and are now creating COVID-19 signage templates for businesses as well as celebratory yard signage and custom greeting cards. Granholm said that sales have declined, and she had to trim staff and reduce their hours. She and her staff remain upbeat, and customers seem to appreciate and share the hope and positivity.

Altiro Latin Fusion

Altiro Latin Fusion had just opened their location in downtown Aurora a few weeks prior to the stay-at-home order. Since then, owners Roberto and Erika Avila made many changes to how they operate in order to provide their customers safe service while also optimizing the most of their ingredients. One of their efforts includes reducing the number of staff they have in each restaurant in order to provide safe working conditions for their employees. They typically now only have two cooks and two servers at a time working in each of their locations. They have also cut down the items on their menu in order to be efficient with their ingredients.

To provide safe service for their customers they now offer curbside pickup and delivery options. They also offer discounts for hospital staff and first responders. They are thankful for all of the community support right now. Roberto said the biggest challenge is not knowing what is going to happen in the future. And not knowing how things will pick-up after the stay-at home orders are pulled back. Being both optimistic and realistic, Roberto said he has hope that things will go back to normal in the future.

All Spoked Up

All Spoked Up is an independent bicycle shop serving the people of Aurora and the Fox Valley. Knowing the importance of staying active, All Spoked Up offers their customers curbside pickup and outdoor assistance. In order to avoid possibly dangerous interactions, store employees have been catering to their customers by bringing bikes outside the doors of the store at 14 W. Downer Pl., and handing off a new or fixed bicycle. Store manager Jon Schratz said sales have gone up since more people are spending time outdoors and staying active. Schratz said it gives him hope to see so many people outside riding bikes.

Photos by Amy Nelson Photography. Words by Bianca Diaz. Diaz is a student intern from Aurora University. Video by Metea Valley High School student Shreya B.