Imagine building your small business up over the course of 7 years to finally get your first physical location. You put your all into a grand opening you’re proud of to ensure things start out perfectly. You send out invites to local media in hopes that they’ll help spread the word, too, and you finally start to feel like the hard work has paid off.
Then, just days before everything is slated to happen, you’re forced to cancel for reasons beyond your control.
This is the story of Filipe Ho and Bradley Rhyne, founders of local menswear brand Ole Mason Jar. The two men were gearing up for the launch of their brand new showroom in South End’s Design Center of the Carolinas when the COVID-19 forced them to postpone.
“To work for so long on something like building out a new retail space only to now not be able to open to the public is devastating, both emotionally and financially,” Rhyne told CharlotteFive.
Despite such a huge blow, the two men are not defeated. They will spend this time working out of the space to fulfill online orders and building their social media audience to help keep the community engaged for when things move forward. Additionally, they plan to take private appointments, as well.
“We are going to fight for this! We started out as an online business out of my garage and can do it again,” Rhyne said.
Plans for opening postponed
Uptown Yolk and Leah & Louise owners Greg and Subrina Collier share a similar story.
Over the last 10 months or so, the couple has been diligently planning for the highly anticipated opening of their Memphis-style juke joint Leah & Louise — their second restaurant and Camp North End’s first.
Under extra precaution they were able to successfully host private previews last weekend, but under the governor’s newest mandate, opening to the public is postponed.
Leah & Louise’s Friday grand opening postponed due to coronavirus pandemic
“We’re not in this alone — it’s scary and uncertain for everyone right now, not just small business owners,” Greg Collier said in a statement. “But we’re doing what we can to make sure we’re straight, to make sure our employees are taken care of, and we’ll go from there.”
Subrina Collier told CharlotteFive that they are trying to get creative with ways for people to order takeout and delivery. They will also be mapping out a plan over the next few days to help their staff to earn extra income.
What if businesses are forced to shut down all operations?
Hip-Hop Smoothies owners Roberto and Shamika Brooks are in the process of opening their first brick and mortar location on March 28.
While the couple still plans to move forward with opening, and limit business to takeout only, they’re unsure of what will happen.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing we will be able to do if a shutdown happens, Shamika Brooks told CharlotteFive. “We are looking to see if our insurance covers this type of loss, and we will rely on our savings until we can get back operational.”
‘Today, we had to let 85 people go’—a Charlotte restaurateur during the time of COVID
The Brooks’ started their brand in 2018 and have been working from a mobile cart that sets up at businesses and local events around the area. With companies offering remote work and events of 10 people or more being cancelled, business has drastically slowed down.
“Our truck has missed out on a lot of daily revenue thus far, and it’s just the beginning,” Shamika Brooks said.
How these small businesses can stay afloat
As new prevention measures are rolled out each day, small businesses are being forced to make tough decisions. Customer flows have been drastically reduced, which unfortunately means less revenue.
Additionally, the supply chain has been disrupted — meaning, businesses can’t get some of their essentials.
“Short-term, small businesses must re-examine cash on hand, revisit sales forecasts, control expenses and get creative,” Carrie Cook, community leader and GreenLight Fund executive director, told CharlotteFive. “It’s going to be a very hard time, but with these steps and others I hope they can sustain. And the community must rally around them to keep our business alive because they hire our people.”
‘Just devastating’: Charlotte’s small businesses fight for survival amid coronavirus
As far as long-term effects, Cook explained that if businesses can’t get credit to make payroll and finance activities through this stretch, it will be a long road ahead locally in Charlotte and even globally.
She emphasizes that rallying together as a community to show support when we can will help lessen the adverse effects in the future.