Little Traveler shuts doors temporarily, as part of fight against COVID-19

  • The Little Traveler store in Geneva is temporarily closing, starting Friday, due to the owner's concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

      The Little Traveler store in Geneva is temporarily closing, starting Friday, due to the owner's concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 
Updated 11/25/2020 5:59 PM

A nearly century-old Geneva store has decided to go online-only for this year's holiday season, to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Little Traveler, at 404 S. Third St., will close its doors starting Friday, owner Michael Simon said Tuesday.

 

Simon said the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois, particularly the number of people being admitted to Northwestern Medicine Delnor and Central DuPage hospitals, prompted his decision.

"I do not want to do anything that will contribute to it (the increase)," he said.

Simon said the governor is encouraging people to avoid nonessential trips outside the home.

"We're not essential," he said.

The store features 36 rooms of merchandise, plus a cafe, in a large Italianate Victorian house. It is credited with starting the conversion of Third Street from residential to a district lined with boutiques and restaurants.

Simon said that with pandemic capacity limits, subtracting out employees and backroom spaces, he figured the store could still host about 80 people at a time.

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Typically on the weekend after Thanksgiving, a lot of the store's shoppers are families hosting out-of-town visitors, he said. Encouraging a crowd didn't seem smart in the time of a pandemic, he explained.

"This is kind of anti-Black Friday," he said of the closure.

The 98-year-old store will instead use modern technology to meet needs.

Last week, a former Genevan who now lives in Dallas asked if she could shop by Zoom or FaceTime. The answer was "yes," and the woman bought $600 worth of items.

The store did not do much in the way of online shopping until the pandemic hit in the spring. Now, it sells more than 1,000 products online.

A new feature is gift bundles that workers are assembling. There will be live shows on Facebook, and the store's personal shoppers will also be available.

"This is the heart of our Plan B" for the holiday season, Simon said.

He is not sure when he will reopen the doors. It depends on the COVID-19 trends, he said.

"We will be here, one way or the other, in the spring," Simon said.

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