Photo by Joseph W. Brown

After thousands of confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths in Ohio, people are (hopefully) staying at home to help protect each other from the spread of COVID-19. We checked in with various Clevelanders to see how they’re holding up and how the pandemic has affected them and their organizations.

As the co-owner of Northeast Ohio’s premier oddities store, Clement Kunkle is certainly used to embracing the not-so-normal. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is another beast entirely. We checked in with Kunkle to see how he and the shop are holding up in these strange times.

Q: How has COVID-19 and Ohio’s general shutdown affected you and your line of work?

A: Due to COVID-19, we have run into some difficulties with our business. Before the pandemic, we never offered shipping and rarely used our website for more than informational purposes. Now that we have been temporarily shut down due to social distancing and such, we decided to open our website up to anyone in the U.S. That being said, we are quickly depleting our store of its inventory! That’s our biggest issue because some of our contacts have decided to take a break due to the virus and its ripple effects on the community. We know so many businesses around us are struggling right now and we are so grateful to our customers for keeping our business alive. 

The oddity business in its entirety, I think, is doing okay during this time. The majority of the businesses in this community are primarily online so they won’t have to worry about rent and other complications that come with a storefront or physical contact with others.

Q: What are you personally doing to help cope with the quarantine? 

A: We are staying sane during these frustrating times by keeping busy. We go to the store every day to take inventory photos, post on our social media and website, and take care of our frogs which reside in Cleveland Curiosities. On the rare occasions that we are not working, we will most likely be at home playing video games, cooking, cleaning, or checking in with the people closest to us.

Q: How, if at all, has COVID-19 affected your worldview? 

A: COVID-19 has definitely altered how we look at everything. We will be taking even more health and safety precautions throughout our days, including, but not limited to, having hand sanitizer available constantly, wiping down our system more consistently, and taking any illness seriously even if it seems relatively minor. It is going to be a while before things are considered “back to normal,” so we will do our part to keep our community healthy. You know the saying “you never knew what you had until it’s gone?” Well, that’s exactly how we are currently feeling because we very much miss being at the shop every day, and especially interacting with all of our wonderful customers and friends.

Q: Lastly, what’s the first thing you’re going to do when the shutdown ends?

A: Personally, we aren’t quite sure yet what we are going to do when the shutdown ends. I think we may wait a few weeks once the ban is lifted before opening up, just to be safe. We are extremely eager, but we want what’s safest for everyone around us. Once we do open back up, we plan to limit the number of customers allowed in our store so that we can still maintain the six feet for social distancing. And honestly? Going to a local restaurant sounds so amazing and I hope that’s the first thing we can do once the ban is lifted!