Local Businesses Struggle to Adapt as Pandemic Persists


Seven Hills Running Shop, Magnolia

Kelsey Hamilton, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has affected everyone in different ways. For some, it’s that they don’t get to play their sports; for others, it’s not getting to go to school in person; but for the local businesses, it’s that they are having to close temporarily, or even permanently.

When the large companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and REI experienced negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, they made the headlines. However, there isn’t much talk about the small local businesses and how they are affected. They seem to quietly go into the night.

According to KOMO News, over 4,500 businesses in Seattle have had to close due to COVID-19. While some remain closed, others have opened again, but not to maximum capacity. Many shops only have 30% of their fire code occupancy. This is especially true with businesses around University of Washington (UW). Stores around UW get a large percent of their customers during the Pac-12 sports season, but now that it has been postponed to the end of the year, businesses are suffering. Big Time Brewery near UW is estimating to lose between $90,000 to $150,000 this fall because of COVID-19, and that is just the financial impact of this pandemic.

Phil Kochik owner of Seven Hills Running Shop in Magnolia, sells a variety of outdoor gear, but his main focus is on shoes. During the quarantine stage of the virus, Seven Hills Running closed their shop and set some items outside for people to come pick up their online purchases. Before opening the shop back up for the public, they had to make some modifications. Due to the store being small, around 800 square feet, only a couple of people at a time were allowed in. The space was made even smaller because part of the store was roped off. “I was trying to keep people in one spot,” explained Kochik.

These were minor changes made to the store with the purpose to make people feel safer, and there was one substantial modification made on top of those. “The one big thing was we started to do free shipping,” Kochik noted.

Seven Hills Running started doing free shipping to areas close by, such as Magnolia, Fremont, and sometimes Queen Anne. Surprisingly, Seven Hills Running Shop has not suffered as much during COVID-19 as was expected. Despite losing business due to the lack of tourism, Kochik has a decent number of loyal customers who have made sure his business stays up and running, with profits at 85% of where they were last year. “I consider myself pretty lucky,” Kochik stated.

COVID has affected many local businesses, including Kochik’s, but thanks to his loyal customers, he manages to still have success during this hard time.