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Tigertree Owner Blames Store Closure On Ohio's Lax Coronavirus Response

Signs in the shape of face masks say "This Was Preventable" on the window of Tigertree in the Short North.
Signs in the shape of face masks say "This Was Preventable" on the window of Tigertree in the Short North.

After 14 years in the Short North, Tigertree is closing its doors because of safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Co-owner Josh Quinn says he wishes that Gov. Mike DeWine and other state officials had mandated face masks for all residents months ago. Now, his unique store, selling everything from greetings cards to surfboards and furniture, will be an online business only.

“I think that if we would have followed the rest of the world in March or April, we would not be in the condition that we’re in,” Quinn says.

Quinn says it’s difficult to serve the customers needed to keep the store viable when many people fear they could get COVID-19.

“Tigertree requires 10-15 people at a time, all day every day, to come in to make this business model work,” Quinn says. “It’s about discovery of not only product, but community or a community hub where people run into one another. And I don’t see us returning to a place where that is accessible in a time frame that makes this business sustainable to keep open as is.”

Quinn says the change to online-only customers took root earlier this year, after he heard about Wuhan, China locking down to contain the coronavirus.

“We quickly shifted a lot of our spring buy from apparel over toward gift and home goods we thought would be good items for being stuck at home, but also things with a longer shelf life and it would ship a little bit easier,” Quinn says. “We started preparing for this shift in January.”

Quinn says he and his wife still own another traditional retail store in Grandview called Cub Shrub, which sells clothing for children.

Despite the setback, Quinn remains optimistic another physical store in the future for Tigertree.

“We fully anticipate opening another brick and mortar store,” Quinn says. “I think it’s going to feel a lot different than this. I think the future of independent retail, the future of all brick and mortar retail is going to be… more about the store experience and the customer service than leaving with a bag.”

Quinn says the store is likely to close August 31.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.