STOW, Ohio — Fighting to keep the doors open in the age of coronavirus is a daily struggle for small businesses across Northeast Ohio. But that struggle is even harder for one startup that opened its doors just as COVID-19 began to ravage the economy.
Thoughts of hope and faith from Christine Benci as she try to keep her new Stow business, Fawn and Fanny, afloat just months after opening.
“I’m repaying a huge loan and huge rent because of the spot I picked between Chipotle and Panera.” Benci said. “I hope I can survive the COVID."
The store, specializing in custom body care products, opened in late December and was just starting to grow a consistent customer base when the pandemic hit. Now business is slow.
Benci said she's “just trying to get that momentum back because it was really picking up before we shut down. But I think people are still leery.”
She’s not alone. A recent survey of small business owners conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed 50% of respondents believe it will take six months to a year for business to return to normal.
According to Dr. Elad Granot, Dean of Ashland University’s College of Business and Economics, COVID-19 is just another of many obstacles businesses face every day to survive.
“This environment might seem like it’s really off the usual path and people talk about the new normal. But there really isn’t a normal in business, things are constantly changing,” Granot said.
But Granot also admits if a business, especially a start-up, is taking on unsustainable amounts of debt without constant profits, then it may be time to make some tough and painful choices.
“Am I actually generating profits sustainably? And if the answer is 'no' and you can’t find any other way around it, you should consider shutting down," Granot said.
It’s a fate Fawn and Fanny in Stow hopes to avoid.
“I’m really hoping we can drum up some really good business and people can help us stay afloat,” Benci said.