Geneva's Little Traveler offers online, social media shopping, curbside pickup

Employee tests positive for COVID-19, prompting closure of in-person shopping

GENEVA – The Little Traveler's Christmas catalog features something for everyone – from little bird houses made of seeds for the birds to eat to Santa elves on holiday leggings.

The iconic store on Third Street in Geneva is ready for the holidays. But what's different in this season of COVID-19 is that the store, at 404 S. Third St., closed this week to in-store shopping, allowing for online orders through its website, www.littletraveler.com, curbside pickup and employees shopping for customers using online apps.

Employees are working inside the store daily from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’d rather be part of the solution than part of the problem,” Little Traveler owner Michael Simon said. “A few weeks ago, we had one employee who tested positive and she obviously quarantined for two weeks and other employees who were around her quarantined as well. Everybody was fine, but if this was something that became serious or if she died or somebody else who worked here got very sick and died, I could not live with myself.”

Simon said the store is always stocked with gifts for the Christmas season – and it’s usually busy with shoppers.

“But some things are more important than making sales – and the health of our employees and their families is on the top of the list,” Simon said.

Shoppers can also get items from the Atrium Cafe through curbside carry-out. Online sales have been brisk, along with curbside pickup and using social media to have employees do the shopping, he said.

“What we’ve done is put our website on steroids and our basket designers are working to make the kind of creative gifts people come to us for,” Simon said. “It’s all available online and our buyers are here everyday. We’re taking phone calls and shopping throughout the store using FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom, walking around the store.”

Also, with a minimum $20 purchase, the Traveler will make free delivery in the TriCities.

“Last week, we got a call from woman in Dallas who moved there from Batavia three years ago," Simon said. "She said, ‘I miss you guys and there’s nothing like the Traveler in Dallas. Can I do a Zoom call and do all my shopping?’ Of course we said yes. It took an hour, she spent $600 to do all her shopping and had a great time.”

Another customer called today to say how disappointed he was not to go shopping with his girlfriend and make a day of it, Simon said. So now they’re going to go shopping using a social media platform to get their gifts that way.

“We are trying to pull out all the stops to make it easier for people to do business with us while still keeping people safe. Our customers appreciate that. They are having fun with it,” Simon said. “It’s a different way of doing business – a much safer way. We hope the people will stay with us through the holiday season. We are looking forward to seeing them in person on the other side of this.”

The Traveler has also partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. The food bank will get a dollar for each item sold in the Christmas catalog  that has the food bank logo on it.

“Everybody can relate to the food bank and people are using it now more than ever,” Simon said. “To give back to them this Christmas makes everybody feel good and know they are making a difference.”