After closing his physical store and holding an initial call with other business owners, Silver Room owner Eric Williams is planning weekly "Connecting Community" meetings every Thursday at 1 p.m. for residents to hear from experts on the evolving coronavirus pandemic and share space together online.
"Once COVID-19 hit, it broke our connections, and this idea of being isolated, being at home and social distancing is actually the antithesis of what I and the store believe in — even though I completely understand it," Williams said. "Since we can't be in person with the community, this was the next best thing, to create a community of folks who just want to get on Zoom and talk."
The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St., has become a community space as much as it is a store selling jewelry, accessories and home goods, hosting its annual summertime Block Party on 53rd Street to discussions with invited speakers. He said the series comes out of people's desire to be social, "to validate their feelings about being scared or uncertain or confused or nervous."
"It's a way to communicate, talk and also just listen," he said. The event will be held on Zoom (meeting ID: 741 276 9427).
Williams has had to lay off his the Silver Room staff amid the pandemic — there is a GoFundMe to support them — but he said the business will come back once the crisis ends.
"We've been around for 23 years. We've been through 9/11; we've been through the 2008 financial crisis. I started the business with like $15 and figured out how to make it work," he said. "We'll be fine. It's not easy to not make any money for several months, but I know we have a lot of support from the community, and we will reopen. We'll be fine."
But the Block Party, scheduled for July 18, "is up in the air right now," Williams said. "Talking to sponsors right now in the middle of a pandemic is a little insensitive and blind, in some ways."
"I can't really ask anybody to do work right now, because they're dealing with their own personal lives, so everything's on hold," he continued. "The longer this goes, the greater the chance that it might not happen."