Starting a New Business in the New Normal: Behemoth Durable Goods
This series on the Visit Champaign County blog will explore businesses that opened during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year is unlike anything our community has experienced, but together, we've rallied to support local, including new businesses in our area. In the next two weeks, we'll share conversations with local businesses about what it's like opening during a pandemic and what ways they've felt inspired and encouraged by residents during the process.
The final business we're talking to in the series is Behemoth Durable Goods, located at 105 S Walnut St. in Champaign.
OPENING DURING COVID-19: Behemoth Durable goods
Today marks the first day Behemoth Durable Goods is open by appointment. Co-Owner Jim Standerfer began organizing the moving parts for this business at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. "After working together informally on design projects for the last few years, Kelly Hieronymus Whiting and I started discussing the idea of partnering on a brick-and-mortar showroom/design center sometime last year. Circumstances aligned to make a Champaign storefront seem realistic at almost the exact moment that the pandemic started to become a reality here in Illinois," said Standerfer. "There were a few weeks of existential dread, but after acclimating a bit to this weird new world order, we decided to start considering locations and assembling a budget."
Despite just now opening for formal appointments, Behemoth has been on the community radar in a significant way. "We've been on the receiving end of a LOT of positive energy from the community," explained Standerfer. "Kelly and I have collaborated on a number of projects for clients in CU, and those folks have all been very supportive. We've also gotten a lot of support from the ownership and property management of our storefront. Lots of well-wishes and excitement from existing downtown businesses."
A handful of products are already listed on their website, which meant already fielding calls for purchase. "We already have people reaching out to us about wanting to purchase items before we're even open. We'd love to see that continue, of course. Thanks, CU!"
Behemoth Durable Goods' COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND HEALTH FOR PATRONS AND EMPLOYEES
Although Jim and Kelly are the only employees, there's still plenty to consider in terms of safety for the store. "When the shop opens, we are going to see clients on a scheduled basis, making appointments for individual and small-group shop visits. That also applies to consultations for custom work. Rather than the big, celebratory grand opening that we'd love to have, we're trying to think of this as a series of very focused, customized grand opening experiences for each customer," said Standerfer.
When customers do come for their scheduled appointment, they'll be greeted with high safety and sanitization standards, according to Standerfer. "We will be requiring masks in the shop. We'll have hand sanitizer available, and we'll be cleaning the spaces regularly throughout the day. we are going to really try to focus on making the most of the opportunity to really focus on individual customers. We're happy to have the opportunity to do this thing, and we're going to take whatever precautions necessary.
Behemoth Durable Goods isn't just a business, it's a passion. "Kelly and I love what we do," explained Standerfer. "since what we do is help people create the most comfortable and functional homes and workspaces possible, we get the opportunity to work with our clients to do something that gives us all a sense of satisfaction." If there's a space in your home in need of a refresh, Kelly and Jim have you covered. "Also, and I can't speak for Kelly on this one, but when I'm shopkeeping, there will always be good records spinning." Count us in.
Visit Behemoth Durable Goods online to explore their offerings and set up an appointment. Small businesses also rely heavily on social media interaction, so be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Plus, be sure to like and comment on their posts.