FARGO — Cassidy Schnasse co-owns local video cafe Replay Games, and like many small business owners, he is doing what he can to lighten the blow from coronavirus closures.
The dozens of chairs in his store are empty and his 24 TV screens are off. It's not uncommon to see the place packed with people playing decades-old video game consoles on a Saturday night.
Schnasse had one such evening shortly before making the decision to temporarily close over coronavirus concerns. He closed his business just a few days before North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered business like his to shut down to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.
"(It's) kind of fulfilling that we made the right decision," Schnasse said. "I don't want to be responsible for someone's grandma getting sick."
While restaurants can still offer take-out and delivery orders, businesses like Replay Games primarily make their profit by being open to the public. Schnasse can still make some cash during the closure, but it's a mere fraction of his typical income.
"Obviously, being closed, we're being cut short, basically zero income," he said. "We've got a (few) online portals selling through eBay and stuff like that, but that's essentially five percent of our total volume."
Schnasse said he is getting some help through his customer base, which has been supporting him with gift card purchases and even donations. A COVID-19 support page was recently added to his website and he has also considered starting a rental program to keep income flowing during the temporary closure.
His landlord and credit companies are making adjustments to make getting through the pandemic easier, too. The disaster relief fund from the Small Business Administration is also something Schnasse is considering.
In spite of support from loyal customers and the government, many fellow business owners he keeps in contact with are saying permanent closure is still a concern.
"Right now, we're not in a position to have to worry about that thankfully," Schnasse explained. "If we go eight weeks or plus, it's something that we will do our best to avoid ... but we don't know what the outcomes are going to be."
Schnasse said businesses that rely on visitors to make money are especially worried.
"There's a lot of anxiety across the board," he said.