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Maple Heights event center trying to stay afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 2:26 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 19:38:34-05

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — It's been a tough year for many small business owners, especially those in the event planning industry.

That’s true for Jamie Powell, the owner of Sadie’s Social Complex in Maple Heights. It's been a rollercoaster of a year for Powell and COO Tayvon James as they’ve tried to keep their heads above water during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Powell said they’re holding on for the ride to hopefully keep the party going.

Powell's love of party planning came from her mom, Linda Montgomery.

“My mother was big on gatherings and families and things like that so it just kind of spilled over into me,” Powell said.

She started out by planning parties for her two sons and then last year turned her passion into a business, transforming a space inside the Southgate USA shopping plaza into Sadie’s Social Complex.

“Things started off really well, people were really responsive,” Powell said.

So responsive, that Powell and James soon found themselves booked solid in March, April, and May of this year. But then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they had to close their doors.

“Honestly, I was scared, I didn't know what to do because you just had to take it day by day. You had to watch the news like everyone else,” James said. “We had no control over it so it was just trying to explain that to clients and trying to get them to rebook and not cancel.”

Powell said she unsuccessfully applied for federal aid.

“I sat back and watched all of these huge corporations receive 10s of millions of dollars in grants and loans and us small business owners kind of just fell by the wayside,” Powell said.

Powell said she was able to stay afloat through help from her parents and leniency from her landlord. Then, Sadie’s opened back up in June with new safety guidelines and sporadic bookings.

“We've only been doing like 50 people in the building, making sure everybody wears masks, hand sanitizers,” Powell said. “People wait to book events. They book them really close to the date, but we've just been doing a lot of small intimate events.”

Powell said she prefers keeping things small because of the rising number of COVID cases. Her own grandfather, George Nelson, recently contracted the virus.

“He's made it to almost 90 years old, and now he has COVID. And COVID has made all of his organs start to shut down.,” Powell said.

Now, having been touched by COVID personally, Powell said she’s even more cautious - booking enough events to keep Sadie’s going, but not cramming too many in to keep other families safe.

“It makes me extremely nervous. Just not wanting to do too much and that's why I'm glad that with the bills and things, I don't feel like the stress of feeling like I have to do something, you have to keep things going in order to get bills paid or to stay running,” Powell said.

“I'm just trying to ride the wave at this point, it seems like and just hoping and praying that sooner than later that this will be something that will be a thing of the past.”

Sadie’s Social Complex is booking for small events both inside their Maple Heights location and also at outside venues.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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