Cleveland Rocks and Beads is poised to welcome back in-store customers
What if you operated a shop that was a gathering space for craft enthusiasts, then suddenly found it among those shuttered when a state order for social distancing, necessitated by a global pandemic, led to the temporary closing of all "non-essential" businesses?
That’s where Cleveland Rocks and Beads owner Jennifer Gerard found herself when COVID-19 hit.
“I felt a bit like an animal in a glass cage with people banging on the glass throughout the day,” said Gerard. “So, I took that idea to the extreme and made a jungle safari out of my shop windows, with stuffed animals and unusual objects from my trips to Asia, so that people taking their children on walks could look for exotic and mythical beasts in the windows.”
Cleveland Rocks and Beads, at 2499 Lee Blvd., in the historic Rockefeller Building, opened six years ago as a business offering crafting classes and parties, as well as selling beads, stones, metals, tools and other jewelry- and craft-making materials.
In the face of the pandemic’s restrictions, Gerard enhanced her online store, at www.clevelandrocksandbeads.com, selling her unique beads and findings, as well as imported gifts, objects and gift cards.
Gerard also stayed active on social media, hosting online trunk shows, and featuring projects created by customers, using components purchased at her shop.
As of May 1, Gerard had opened her store by-appointment to single customers and family units, and was looking ahead to May 12 when, in accordance with Gov. DeWine’s order lifting some restrictions on retail shops, she plans to open to in-store customers who are wearing masks and “sanitize on entry.” Call 216-932-3780 to make an appointment, and for more information.
Through the shutdown and gradual reopening, Cleveland Rocks and Beads continues to operate as a UPS Access Point—a pick-up and drop-off location. UPS customers are asked to knock, have ID ready to show, and wait patiently outside while Gerard brings packages to the door.
Gerard reminds residents to think local first, in making purchasing decisions. “If we want vibrant, healthy communities,” said Gerard, “we have to start thinking before we buy. We have bookstores, confectioners, coffee roasters, bread bakers, gift shops, dress makers and now mask makers. Before people click and send their money to another part of the country or the world, we should think about who might need our support right here. Most of our local businesses have an online presence or are just a phone call away.”
Robert Brown is a city planner with 40 years of experience, including nine years as Cleveland's city planning director. A resident of Cleveland Heights for more than 40 years, he joined the board of FutureHeights last year.