Cedar Rapids Local Business Takes COVID-19 Precautions

A+suitcase+painted+with+the+Found+%2B+Formed+logo.+Courtesy+of+Found+%2B+Formed+Instagram.

A suitcase painted with the Found + Formed logo. Courtesy of Found + Formed Instagram.

Maggie Talbott-Malone, Writer

Local businesses are a crucial part of any community. The COVID-19 pandemic created a multitude of new challenges for them. It added a need for innovation and creative solutions that integrate pandemic precautions.

Found + Formed is a local consignment shop located in the Czech Village Plaza of Cedar Rapids. They sell a variety of clothing, wall decor and jewelry. The business closed in March 2020 for two months due to COVID-19. When they reopened, co-owners Rachel Maker, Abigail Rawson and Carissa Starleaf came up with new strategies for safety.

The shop is following the guidelines recommended by the CDC. They require shoppers to wear face coverings for the entirety of their visit. Face masks and hand sanitizer are provided. 

“We are now offering private shopping appointments,” Maker said.

Maker explained that private shopping appointments allow up to four people in the shop. They can book a 30 or 60 minute appointment. The customer does not have to make a purchase during their shopping appointment. The time between the appointments allows the employees to clean the shop and control the exposure rate.

“Our number one priority right now is safety. If we opened our doors back to limited capacity, two separate groups could be taking very different measures in their day-to-day life and then be exposed to one another in our store,” said Maker. “Controlling that scenario and reducing risk is our highest priority.”

The shop made the decision to move solely to the private appointments for health and safety reasons.

“Switching to appointments was a complicated decision to make because it greatly reduces the shop’s income. We are three people relying on that source of income and we care more about the health of people than making a profit,” said Maker. “Not every small business can do what we’ve done.”

The owners were forced to close the shop in March and all of their events were canceled. Maker explained that a large source of the business’ income was made by setting up shop at music festivals and vintage markets. 

“We had to innovate to stay afloat. We began selling through our Instagram stories, posting 10 items each day, and we received an incredible amount of support from our customers,” Maker said. “Every purchase kept our doors open and our business alive.”

Found + Formed has transitioned to selling online, and is working to open up an online store. Maker described that it’s inspiring to see people from all over the country shop in their store and that it keeps them motivated.

“We are grateful to be in this community because it’s the reason we are still open,” Maker said.

Found + Formed is currently closed for the month of January for renovations and will reopen on Feb. 3, 2021.