PICTURE IT: The quintessential American dream of owning your own business! FINALLY becoming your very own boss and never having to work for someone else ever again! You can picture your new business, the branding, the endless options of décor, the products and their displays, trying to figure out how to make a Facebook business page, unlocking the doors in the morning, staying late at night to get things finished or prepared for the following day, the (what seems like) countless hours of sweat equity involved, and probably some tears here or there (that’s where all the tissues went we imagine LOL, we forgive you).
BUT you also see yourself smiling and working alongside your employees that are just as invested in your new business as you are, you can hear your happy customers or client’s bustling about, and of course wanting to eventually make a profit to live the life you always dreamed of! Everything is going as planned (or at least somewhat according to plan), and then… BOOM (add dramatic hand gestures for even more BOOM effect), a once in a lifetime (hopefully) pandemic happens! A plot twist only the infamous author of horror novels Stephen King, or James DeMonaco a screenwriter, director, and producer, would come up with! Well…there were probably some scientist involved in there somewhere, but we digress.
This has been the actual reality for a few new business owners in our Baldwinsville, New York Community. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the B’ville community, it’s that it’s FILLED with resilient humans! As a new business owner, you can easily spend months and countless hours coming up with ideas and business plans to get it up and running successfully. Not only is it a financial obligation to starting a brand-new business, but there’s the added physical and emotional tolls as well. No one was able to just Google how to start a new business during a pandemic, but we can in fact say that these Baldwinsville business owners are taking charge and making it happen! We decided to reach out to a few of these businesses and their owners to get their perspective on what it was truly like to open a brand-new business during a pandemic. It’ll be clear why we love where we live, and are so proud of these amazing business owners once you’re finished; because this is inspiring (and thankfully far from a horror novel or Hollywood movie)!
We had the pleasure of speaking with Benjamin Gerardi from Farm-Swarming LLC, located at 8213 Dexter Parkway in Baldwinsville. Farm-Swarming LLC delivers products from local farms and shopkeepers, that you pick out and purchase from their website (essentially an awesome online farmer’s market), right to your front door! Talk about a perfect new business plan during a pandemic! Providing locally sourced produce and other goods during a crisis to their community, all while helping to keep our local farmers and shopkeepers in business!
Benjamin explained to us some of the issues they faced opening Farm-Swarming during the pandemic,
Benjamin stated, “one main issue was the lack of opportunities to really build that trust and understanding that one can gain when talking to farmers and business owners in person. I had some very long phone calls instead. I learned of a fresh and profoundly noble set of experiences and perspectives among the honorable people that work our lands, and are utterly struggling to make ends meet right now. Most folks don't take the time to look and really grasp the tragedy of our few remaining small farms (and now even large farms) not being able to make a living, or being forced to make decisions they don't want to make about quality or crops, in order to save money.”
When we asked him what some of the triumphs were along the way, he was elated to explain to us the following,
Benjamin said, “the whole shebang; from the first customer we served all the way to our 1000th. Farm Swarming turned a key in our food supply chain and made for happy customers, happy farmers, and happy workers. I myself am proud of what it has become. I enjoy solving problems and this Covid thing is quite a puzzle and challenge. I was taught to believe in this country, the best of us rise to meet every challenge with grace, grit, and goodwill, and that's exactly what I will continue doing.”
Make sure to stay tuned to their Facebook business page and website because Farm-Swarming is growing! With plans for delivery expansions in surrounding counties, seeking local farmers and shopkeepers to add to their growing list (contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of anyone in need of getting the word of their products out), a new curbside pick-up location (115 Syracuse Street-next to Apparel Brothers in Nobles Plaza), multiple job postings, an updated user-friendly website, weekly sampler-boxes, delicious recipes by Terrance Neidl and Ryan Burdick, and of course fresh produce weekly from surrounding local farms. It's pretty clear to us that Farm-Swarming LLC is here to make a community impact! Check out their website to order or to contact them directly: https://farm-swarming.com/
Next up was Emily Speers, owner of the hair salon The Beauty Room, located at 33 Oswego Street next to Angry Garlic. When the pandemic started to shut everything down, the prior owner of the salon decided it was time to close the doors for good. Emily Speers (age 24) decided this was her chance to live out her dream of owning her own business!
Emily said, “the biggest struggle of opening a salon during a global pandemic was the uncertainty of the outcome. I kept asking myself if I was crazy for wanting to open a business during a global pandemic. I would tell people I was opening a salon and they’re response would be, ‘well this is an interesting time to be opening a business.’”
The new normal in the salon and barber industry, is far from what most are accustomed to when it comes to a normal trip to the salon or barbershop to have their hair cut.
Emily Speers explained, “the new normal of having to wear a mask and face shield every day, sanitizing every surface that has been touched by a client in between each appointment, having to make clients wait in their car or outside until their appointment time instead of waiting in the waiting room, not being able to provide coffee or tea...the list of guidelines and necessary changes that needed to be adapted into the salon just goes on, but it is what needs to be done to keep everyone safe. I also went as far as getting extra germicide and sanitization certifications so I know that I am taking all precautionary measures against the spread of all virus, and that I am able to provide my clients with a safe, and clean experience in the salon. I just knew this was something that I needed and wanted, to make happen for myself despite all the unpredictability.”
Emily discussed with me that taking over a business and starting it as your own, was a major financial responsibility in general, factor in a global pandemic and then it becomes a financial risk as well. She, like many others in her industry and around New York state, were left without pay for the first 8 weeks of the pandemic. Yet Emily and her dream of owning her very own salon business remained steadfast and The Beauty Room is now currently open for business!
“Putting all of that aside, I am overall just beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to start something of my own. The circumstances of the world have definitely made things a little difficult and much different in the salon than we are all used to, but it will make all of us business owners come out stronger in the end having gone through this” said owner Emily Speers.
Check out The Beauty Room on their Facebook and Instagram page. Emily currently is accepting new clients and her work is beautiful! She has booth rentals available for licensed cosmetologist/esthetician, hair stylist, lash technician, and microblading specialist. Call or text The Beauty Room at (315)857-6909 to book your appointment today!
Last, but not at all least is Cheryl Heller owner of The Savvy She Shed. Cheryl used to own The Savvy Chick before The Savvy She Shed (try saying that 7 times fast)! Don’t worry, this Cheryl’s She Shed didn’t burn down like the State Farm commercial’s thankfully, she just moved locations! The Savvy She Shed is located at 60 Oswego Street. You may remember Cheryl’s old location on the corner where the new business Greens (N) Grains (which also started during the pandemic) is located. I had the greatest chat with Cheryl about her new business! If you’re not familiar with her former business The Savvy Chick, The Savvy She Shed is, “a unique gift emporium featuring locally handcrafted gifts and home décor all made in the USA.”
I had asked Cheryl the same question of what she found to be the biggest struggle of opening a brand-new business during a pandemic.
Cheryl said, “it’s been stressful because my number one priority and responsibility has been making sure it’s safe for my customers and clients to come into my store. Following sanitation guidelines and making sure the foot traffic in the store is socially distanced. I have made private in-store shopping appointments available, and I will be spotlighting groups of products I carry, and posting it to Facebook for customers to purchase. It’s difficult to create a website of individual items because these locally handcrafted or other items are constantly changing. If a customer for example likes the spotlight group of items I post, I can even help to create a gift for them to make it convenient!”
But this isn’t Cheryl’s first rodeo when it comes to opening a new business. Only her first at opening one during a pandemic.
“Our grand opening was essentially a trial to see how the precedence would be set, what would work, and what we would have to change. We knew it would be a very different grand opening this time around since many people still really weren’t comfortable leaving their house to go shopping, so we did Facebook live videos, and handed out prizes as well. We are learning a new normal with technology because of people not wanting to necessarily leave home to shop. We are learning how to adapt to sell our products to our customers” said Cheryl Heller.
After speaking with Cheryl some more, it’s quite clear she’s a fast learner and quick to adapt her new business during the pandemic for her customers! The Savvy She Shed has some super-secret incredible plans coming soon that made our jaw(s) drop and heart(s) flutter! Make sure to check out her Facebook page for these exciting announcements, upcoming events, live videos, and beautiful products she carries. To make a private shopping appointment at The Savvy She Shed with Cheryl, call (315)416-1000.
Baldwinsville NY is home to us. These small businesses and their owners are what makes living here, even greater. While these were just 3 of the new businesses that we were able to talk to, the other 3 are right there with them when it comes to figuring out the new normal for business during this pandemic. We are so very proud of all of these business owners and will continue to support them and all of our community! The other new businesses that opened during the pandemic in Baldwinsville NY:
- Greens (N) Grains
1 West Genesee Street
7 Syracuse Street
- Holistic Blends
Located in Nobles Plaza