Brockport businesses find new strategies to tackle COVID-19.
By Trinity Wilson
Nearly six weeks into the pandemic and many local businesses in the village of Brockport are still adjusting to the changes. In the midst of these changes, some businesses still providing services through take-out, online, or have closed all together.
Some may say that running a business all by yourself is an impossible challenge, but not for Coleen Dwyer. For nineteen years Dwyer’s restaurant, Coleen’s Kitchen, has managed to accommodate to changes and this sudden change is no different.
“Coleen’s Kitchen is adjusting quite well. I did a fair amount of takeout before the pandemic, so it wasn’t a difficult adjustment.” said Dwyer.
Dwyer says that her entire menu is available for take-out. Her menu providing a wide variety of items ranging from homemade bagels to blueberry pancakes. She says that her amount of orders varies depending on what day it is.
“The beginning of the week tends to be a little slower, said Dwyer. There are more bulk orders on Monday and Tuesday, by Saturday I probably make 50 take outs. That may seem small comparatively, but I am a one-person operation. I didn’t really set a specific goal numbers wise, just trying to roll with it.”
Dwyer said she believes that social media is the best way to keep in touch with her customers.
“I post daily specials and if I have extra bread or bagels to offer, I post that and usually get a good response,” said Dwyer.
Dwyer says even though her restaurant is only doing take-out, she still considers following safety precautions essential to her daily routine.
“I follow typical food safety precautions like constantly washing hands, not touching ready to eat food without gloves. The extra step of disinfecting the counter, credit card machine, door handle, etc. is the only new thing, “ said Dwyer.
Dwyer said she believes that her business that will get through this difficult time.
“The future of my business hasn’t been altered by this event, “said Dwyer. I’m very fortunate that I don’t have employees to be concerned with. When things get back to relative normalcy, I expect not much will have changed.”
Many businesses in the Brockport community rely on forming a connection with their customers. Rachael Murphy, owner of Sole Movement & Dance Studio says that this adjustment has been challenging.
“I think the change for me was hard, but I couldn’t stop what we have worked
so hard for. It’s been an adjustment, but I have amazing support, so the change was possible, “ said Murphy.
Murphy believes that having support from her team is crucial.
“It’s not so much working from home but the challenge to physically teach without a student body present. They are my energy force,” said Murphy.
Murphy says that motivating her customers as well herself through dance is very important.
“Dance keeps me motivated in normal times. So, during this uncertainty, I had to stay focused,” said Murphy. Dance has had such a huge impact in my life especially during the hardest parts of my life. It has kept me going and I wanted to continue sharing it to the dancers. Especially during this time since school, family and friends had been taken away. I wanted dance to still be somewhat normal for them.”
Murphy says that she does virtual classes throughout the week through a group communication app called Band. During her classes, which span from ballet to hip hop, Murphy says that dance has given her as well as her students a bit of normalcy.
“Dance or any Art is important during these times for the kids, it keeps them staying active and creative. And as we continue to prepare for our annual recital, I feel like it gives them something to look forward to. And it keeps us a community, a family, “ said Murphy.
Sarah Bonczyk, co-owner of Lift Bridge Book Shop says that this transition has not only affected her on a business level but on an personal level as well.
“There is no way to avoid the overlapping of work and home life, said Bonczyk. We have children and they need a lot of time and attention. This is very stressful for them as well. We all have lost out normalcy, routine and structure.”
Bonczyk says she and her husband, John have to deal with multiple responsibilities as the book shop has moved solely to an online format.
“We are still fulfilling online orders and to do so we go into our store for 4-5 hours Monday-Saturday. So, we’ve adapted, but it means three times the amount of work for each order. We are very grateful though; people are ordering online which is a great thing.” says Bonczyk.
Bonczyk says that they keep in touch with their customers through different media platforms.
“We are still sending out our e-newsletter and updating our homepage (www.liftbridgebooks.com), and trying to post daily on social media, “ said Bonczyk.
Bonczyk says that reading can provide an outlet for people during these times of stress uncertainty.
“Reading is always important, but now more than ever. It can help you escape, inspire and educate. You can read alone or with your children or both. Reading is a great way to take care of yourself by allowing your mind to relax and enjoy something even though you are faced with so much uncertainty in these times. “ said Bonczyk.
Brooke Albanese, owner of a home décor store called Lagom, says that this transition has brought new opportunities.
“Change is good. It gives us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, our thoughts and how we handle things. This change has given me a chance to reflect on what I can do better as a business owner and how I can better serve my community. It has also made me realize how caring and remarkable my customers are!, “said Albanese.
Albanese believes that this sudden change has brought some obstacles.
“My biggest drawback was building a website. I was fortunate enough to have help from some of my customers on building a website. I can’t thank them enough! I use social media and email to direct them to my new website, “ says Albanese.
Albanese says that this pandemic has brought the local businesses in Brockport closer together.
“I think Brockport as a whole is a supportive community, said Albanese. We are all in this together and without each other we will not thrive.”
Many businesses owners in the Brockport community continue to thrive due to their support from their customers. Bonczyk believes that any support from the community helps local businesses.
“Continue to support local business when and where you can. Now more than ever small towns and small businesses need your support. Order something to go or find out if a business has a website/social media page. Follow, like and share our social media posts. Any little bit helps, “said Bonczyk.
The business owners in the village of Brockport believe having support from the community is essential. During times of uncertainty, unity is important now more than ever.