No doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic has made 2020 an unprecedented year for small-business owners. Restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus, changing consumer needs and a tough economy caused serious issues many never anticipated.
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Sadly, 132,580 U.S. businesses on Yelp have closed since the start of the pandemic — observed as March 1 — according to the company. However, others have been able to safely transition to new operating models, effectively finding new ways to keep their doors open during trying times.
Many previously brick-and-mortar businesses have been able to set up shop online. Others have been forced to get a little more creative with their offerings, as the paths their businesses were following didn’t fit life in a pandemic.
It should come as no surprise that so many small-business owners have been so resourceful, as launching a company and keeping it running has never been easy. Here are five examples of small businesses that found seriously inventive ways to adapt, while putting safety first.
The Jane Club in Los Angeles
In 2019, the Jane Club opened its flagship co-working space in Los Angeles. Complete with child care, a mediation garden and even a nap room, membership also included access to events tailored to professional women — and then the pandemic hit.
The Jane Club quickly pivoted with a new virtual membership called “the Connected Jane.” Now more than 400 “Janes” enjoy access to a variety of benefits including daily meditation, fireside chats, weekday community check-ins and fitness classes, allowing them to stay safely connected from afar.
Little Maestros in New York City
An infant and toddler music program with several locations in New York City, Little Maestros’ classes were a strictly in-person event before the pandemic. However, savvy thinking has allowed the fun to continue.
Little Maestros now allows parents to rent episodes of its new show series on Vimeo or register their children for a weekly Zoom class. The company even offers virtual birthday parties. For those who still want the in-person experience, socially distanced outdoor classes are also offered, with musical merchandise available for purchase, as events are currently BYOI — bring your own instrument.
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Katie’s Clay Studio in Allison Park, Pennsylvania
A full-service ceramic and art studio in the Pittsburgh suburbs, Katie’s Clay Studio has taken many precautions to safely serve customers in person during the pandemic. However, capacity is limited and everyone isn’t comfortable being inside the studio, so it’s created a fun to-go kit that allows customers to enjoy painting pottery, canvas and wooden shapes at home.
Kits are offered for both adults and kids, so there’s something for everyone. Curbside pickup is available, as well as private personal shopping appointments, making for a safe and easy experience.
Fonuts in Los Angeles
Donuts with a healthy twist, Fonuts rose to fame in Los Angeles with its baked donuts — not the fried standard — that are all gluten-free, with several vegan offerings. Service is currently limited to sidewalk pickup at its two local shops, but the store has also added baker kits to the mix, allowing customers to make their own Fonuts at home.
Local pickup is offered, as well as nationwide shipping, allowing donut lovers across the country to enjoy this wildly popular brand.
Piante in Winter Park, Florida
A boutique offering plants, florals and other goods, along with custom garden and landscape design services, Piante’s downtown Winter Park boutique is no doubt very lovely — but these days, the store is not trying to draw a crowd. While small, private workshops are currently offered in person, the company has also shifted classes to a Zoom format.
You don’t even have to be local to the area to attend a virtual floral workshop, as materials are available for pickup but can also be shipped.
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