Small businesses bring communities together. They provide goods and services that enhance lives while bringing connection and familiarity to the best and worst of times. That’s why the Upper Arlington Community Foundation’s Good Neighbor Fund expanded to support small businesses in UA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March, UA’s Puptown Lounge, SOW Plated, and Cover to Cover have gone from thriving to surviving. The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything for them. As they’ve considered how to innovate and forge a new path forward, the UACF Good Neighbor Fund has provided them grants at a critical time. Here’s a closer look at each of these beloved businesses.
For Puptown Lounge, business had been booming. Daycare services had a nearly constant waitlist and boarding services were always booked.
“As the pandemic hit, we were in the middle of spring break, which is typically our busiest period of the year”, co-owner Cliff Boyden says. “About half the vacations were cancelled and most were cut short. We closed entirely on March 21st for seven weeks.” The business eventually reopened with added safety precautions, but business was still down dramatically.
After hearing about the Good Neighbor Fund grants for small businesses, Boyden for funding. “This grant was a blessing in an extremely hard time,” says Boyden. “It went to help pay rent, our biggest expense outside of payroll. Having that peace of mind was such a relief. It really took a big load of stress off the table.”
Now, things are progressing for Puptown Lounge once again. “We continue to rebound every week and look forward to getting back to some kind of normal,” says Boyden. “We’ve brought back our entire staff and are working hard to keep things moving in a positive direction.”
“The UACF has been truly wonderful,” adds Boyden. “It is a great organization of neighbors helping neighbors. It makes me proud to live in a community so involved and so willing to help others in times of need. This organization helps people right here in our own backyards, and that's huge.”
“We were six months into our new brand’s launch at The Shops on Lane Avenue when the effects of COVID-19 began to be felt,” remembers co-owner John Fahlgren. “Guest counts began to noticeably erode making it evident the pandemic was about to become a very serious matter.”
As the pandemic continued to progress, challenges became greater. Fahlgren learned of the UACF through a friend and reached out to Tracy Kirby Harbold, the Foundation’s director.
“Thanks to her leadership and the generosity of UACF, we received critical funding immediately to help offset some of the unexpected legal expenses incurred as a result of having to navigate our way through the early phase of the pandemic,” says Fahlgren.
Reflecting on his experience, Fahlgren says, “I’ve been around for a while and have been honored to work with many of the finest organizations anywhere. Working with UACF has honestly been as good as it gets. Tracy is an exceptional, fully dedicated brand ambassador for the city of Upper Arlington. This one experience alone reminds us of why we chose this community to launch our brand. It’s neighbors dedicated to helping neighbors. That’s what Ohioans do.”
Cover to Cover
When the pandemic hit, owner Melia Wolf decided to close the storefront and only provide home delivery and curbside pickup options. “There was so many unknown factors about the virus and how it spreads, and the store is typically full of children,” Wolf says. “Their well-being is our priority.”
Cover to Cover waited until late June to reopen safely. The store implemented in depth safety protocol and continue to offer home delivery and curbside pickup for orders. Wolf heard about the Good Neighbor Fund through other business owners and friends in the community and decided to apply.
“The generous grant gave our bookstore necessary financial stability in the middle of a global pandemic that no business, large or small, was prepared for,” Wolf says. “It was just another example of the great support we’ve received from the Upper Arlington community”.
Now, Cover to Cover is recovering. “Because of the generous support of our community and the additional ways of ordering and distributing books that we implemented during the lockdown, our business is doing well,” Wolfe says. “Not all small businesses in Columbus are as fortunate as we are to have this kind of community support.”
While these three small businesses have had to innovate and think creatively in order to survive the coronavirus crisis, the Good Neighbor Fund played a key role in helping them move forward.
If you are interested in supporting the Good Neighbor Fund, click the “Give Now” button below to make a donation today.