CHICAGO (CBS) — The coronavirus outbreak in China is causing problems for a number of small businesses here in the Chicago.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole takes us to a small Chicago company struggling to keep things running.
This is a story about broken technology and an infectious virus.
But not the computer kind. At a West Loop warehouse and downtown storefront.
“Generally, we order a good deal of parts from China. It’s kind of caused issues with our supplies here, said Noel Sevilla of Jet City Device Repair.
China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, where in many cities quarantines have brought daily life and business to a standstill.
Jet CIty Device Repair fixes broken cell phones and tablets. But their replacement touch screens, glass and batteries come from China. Many supply shelves at Jet City are empty because shut down factories aren’t producing products for export.
“It does kind of put a wrench in our operations,” Sevilla said. “We are forced to order domestically and that is a little bit trickier.”
Sevilla said hunting down reliable suppliers takes time, and domestic parts can be more expensive and are not always as reliable.
“Anybody can go on eBay and get a part, but generally they aren’t good, and you have to stay vigilant,” Sevilla said.
National Chinese New Year celebrations in late January typically slow down exports for about two weeks. But coronavirus restrictions have extended that lag.
Here in the U.S. small business of all sorts, from clothing lines to adventure gear suppliers, said they are impacted to varying degrees.
Jet City said finding parts has been so hard, they’ve taken to buying used tablets for replacement screens for example. A costly proposition they can only keep up so long.
“It’s really put a strain on what’s available to us,” Sevilla said.
Jet City said its suppliers may be able to get a shipment out on March 3. But with complications from the coronavirus continuing in China, it’s uncertain whether the suppliers can honor that date.