'We will do what it takes:' Small business owners urge state to re-open economy on limited basis

RACINE -- It's been a month since Gov. Tony Evers declared his "Safer at Home" order, bringing big changes to our lives and the way businesses operate.

Now, some small business owners feel they could re-open on a safe, limited basis.

Michelle Schimian

With her kids at her side, Michelle Schimian restocks the shelves at RG Natural Babies. The store, which she has now owned in downtown Racine for 12 years, offers more than toys.

"We sell cloth diapers. We sell natural detergents, and we sell menstrual products, nursing products. Stuff that new moms, new babies do need," Schimian said.

Yet the state says her business is non-essential, limiting her to online orders and curbside pickup only -- restrictions that, she says, are unfair.

Main Street in Racine

"Why can they go into Walmart and Target and get it, and not to a small clean store," said Schimian. "I'm just asking for appointment only. I'd love to be able to make appointments with customers that want to come in and be able to look for stuff."

She awarded one of 18 forgivable loans from the City of Racine to carry her through the pandemic, but knows others aren't as lucky.

Janna Coca

Just up Main Street, Janna Coca -- owner of Tangles Salon Studio -- says she'd like Gov. Evers to reconsider limits on hair and beauty salons. She's been selling color kits just to get by and says her stylists could wear masks and gloves, space out chair use and limit clients.

"It's been a challenge," Coca said. "We will do what it takes to keep the salon clean and safe for our customers. We just need to be given a chance to do that."

A chance to get closer to normal and keep businesses running as best they can. Both business owners say they understand the seriousness of the virus, but want to get back to work and be able to support their communities again.