Local Snapshot on the Impact of COVID-19

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A continuation on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting small local businesses.

2020 and the pandemic have rocked Medina Entertainment Center’s world

Due to Governor Tim Walz’s executive order all in-restaurant dining, indoor recreational activities and indoor events including wedding and funeral receptions have been mandated closed November 20 through Friday, December 18. Medina Entertainment Center is offering takeout on their online menu Tuesdays through Sundays from 4:30-7:30 pm (closed on Mondays) as well as Family Meals to Go. Below is an interview with owner Mark Raskob from Tuesday, October 20 for the December issue of LocalTies Magazine.

“Covid has drastically impacted our business,” Mark Raskob, president and owner of the Medina Entertainment Center, explained. “We closed our business completely on March 13. We closed down Roberts Restaurant and Bar. We closed the bowling lanes. We had to cancel all private events and weddings. We had to reschedule/cancel 27 national act concerts. All of our employees got laid off ~ everything came to a screeching halt when Covid-19 hit. This has been financially devastating to Medina Entertainment Center and for all of our amazing employees. Once we were allowed to re-open in May we were only allowed to sell take-out food. In June, the entire building was allowed to open with major social distancing, new rules, restrictions, guidelines and major capacity restrictions.”

Mark adds, “The rules are constantly changing and we never know what to expect next. Covid has significantly hurt our business and employees! Our biggest challenge is to get customers to come back for dining, bowling, events and concerts. We have followed the CDC rules and guidelines precisely for social distancing and restrictions. The ballroom is over 27,000 square feet with a total capacity of 2000 people. With Covid and CDC restrictions the ballroom total capacity is currently 250 guests. We can socially distance 128 people on the 5000 square foot dance floor with four people per table, six feet apart. Prior to Covid we could seat 540 guests on the dance floor alone.

When asked if there has been anything positive that has come as a result of COVID-19, Mark stated an emphatic, “No!!!!”

Heintz + Clark, Ltd CPA & Accounting Services assists businesses with government programs & changes

Heintz + Clark, Ltd, has been experiencing a different reality due to the challenges of COVID-19. Steve Heintz, president and co-owner explained, “Being a CPA firm, our biggest impact has been how we have serviced our clients. Like most service based businesses, we have moved to more electronic meetings and communications. We work with clients from all over the world, so our firm had these processes in place prior to Covid. The volume of electronic communication increased substantially.

“Our firm helped clients navigate many of the legislative programs and changes that were put in place. The PPP Program, EIDL program, stimulus checks, IRA distributions are just some examples of the programs and changes we helped our clients work through. Ana Pooley, Accountant wrote an article in the September Local Ties edition on some of these programs. I have had hundreds of conversations with clients about changes in their business or the various programs, and I don’t really see this stopping any time soon. It has become part of our daily work for the time being. Ultimately, our firm had to pivot very quickly from tax preparation to becoming experts and a resource for our clients on these changes.”

Steve added, “Also, the original tax deadline was extended to July 15th, so our schedules changed! I was actually able to golf before April 15th this year.”

Looking back on 2020, Steve sums up his observations, “March and April were a scary time for many of our business owner clients. There was so much uncertainty around what was going to happen. We do have clients that have struggled, but we have more clients that are actually having their best year ever. I know this can be hard for those struggling to hear, but this wasn’t a fatal blow to our small business economy.”

Kalla Lily transitions to a new business model in Medina

Given the Govenor’s COVID 19 shut down orders, it has been an interesting and enterprising year for salons. Melissa Ebert Nenovich, owner of Kalla Lily Salon & Spa learned a lot about her business, specifically what works and what is not working for the Medina and Maple Grove locations.

“We had to call guests, sometimes several times, to reschedule,” Melissa said. “And during all of this, our guests were very supportive and compassionate.

“During this time, we also came to the conclusion that we needed to come up with a different business plan for our Medina location. A couple of our team members were not comfortable coming back into a full salon environment and decided to go on their own. Most were comfortable and still wanted the full salon environment.

“At that point, we discussed different options for our locations. Effective January 1, 2021, the Medina location will operate as an independent contractor business, while our Maple Grove location will remain an employee based business.”

Melissa explained, “This allows flexibility for our employees between the two locations. The Medina location will look and act as we have always looked with front desk staff answering phones, taking appointments, retailing products and gift cards.

“As challenging as the shutdown was in March, this time allowed us to focus on all areas of our business. We were and are so appreciative of our guests understanding . They wanted us to succeed and supported us with retail orders and gift cards. In some ways this Pandemic has put humility back into our society.”

Complete Eye Care of Medina appreciate patients’ flexibility & support during COVID-19

Dr. Gina Wesley, Optometrist shared Complete Eye Care’s experience with the pandemic, “We had to shut down the clinic for six weeks, and were only available for emergency care during that time. We have had to put more stringent sanitation and protective measures in place to protect our staff and patients. Scheduling is spaced at farther intervals than normal to allow for cleaning/disinfecting in between patients. We don’t allow walk-ins in general any longer, so all visits to the office are scheduled. We offer curbside pick-up for many of our orders if unable to mail directly to you.”

After nine long months, COVID-19 is taking it’s toll on small businesses in Medina. “Our biggest challenge is keeping morale high. It can be discouraging to not operate at the same level, or in the same manner, as normal. Masks make things a bit more impersonal, and it’s harder to read facial expressions and communicate. We are concerned about our patients’ and staff’s overall mental fortitude to make it through these challenging times.” Yet all is not lost. “Our patients have been so positive and grateful for the precautions we’ve taken to allow them to maintain their eye care. Overall, our patients have been super supportive of these changes and we thank everyone for their flexibility,” Dr. Wesley stated. “We love being supportive in that way, and will continue doing all we can to be there for them!”

Shelly Bean the Sports Queen – Helping Children & Adults during a Challenging Time

Shelly Boyum-Breen has built her career around personal interests through her ability and desire to empower people. “I dabble in a lot of different things in my professional life but I’m most recognized as a children’s book author, public speaker and advocate for girls and women in sports.” She also is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota, teaching for the Leadership Minor.

Growing up, Shelly didn’t see anyone in the books she read with whom she could identify. She was an avid athlete, yet the few story athletic characters she found were boys. That missing book genre had always stuck with her, so much so she decided to write her own children’s book series about a little girl named Shelly who learns a new sport in every book. With each success achieved, “Shelly Bean” rewards herself with a sports charm to place on her crown.

“The last few years, I have worked very hard to build my speaking business. As a children’s book author with a message of perseverance of my own as well as a strong, female character who serves as a role model to many children, I’ve spoken to over 70,000 kids and 10,000 adults around the country. When COVID hit, all my gigs were canceled with the exception of a few who moved to Zoom. Speaking events are my best book sale generators as well. So, it’s been a challenge to grow or even maintain the revenue side of the business.

“But the most challenging part of the year has been less about my actual business and more about the need for a business like mine. With so much division and hatred in our country showing itself so boldly, I feel like my inspirational message and that of my characters are more important than ever for children – and adults, frankly. The Geena Davis Institute coined the hashtag #ifshecanseeitshecanbeit. Right now kids and adults need to be hearing and seeing what’s possible, that you will fall down but the key is that you get back up and try again. That’s where the success comes from. We’ve fallen down as a nation. We need to get back up and try again for our children, for our climate, for humanity. And, if girls and boys and those leading them can hear this message, we can create hope and inspire action.”

Like so many who have had time to observe and reflect on this past year, Shelly believes there is a great lesson. “So much good has come out of the pandemic for me and my business. I’ve had more creative time and space to write. I’ve been able to focus energy on growing partnerships for the next phase of Shelly Bean – animation. I’ve ‘attended’ events all over the world virtually including being on a panel for the European Golf Course Architects Association. I’m teaching at the University of Minnesota online and LOVE it. The lack of travel has allowed me to be more present with my nephews who live nearby and support their distance-learning. And, with my Dad in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and still living at home with my Mom, it’s allowed me to be able to drive to Brainerd for at least one overnight a week to be with them and be a caregiver. Finally, I’ve had to pause and take a stronger, more real look at how I operate in the world in my white privilege and work on growing as an anti-racist.”

As 2020 winds down, Shelly parts with this message. “Mr. Rogers called us to ‘see the helpers.’ Robin Robert’s mother preached to ‘make your mess, your message.’ I am seeing helpers all over our community and our world. I see how much good and love and hope is coming from our pandemics and yet, we have so much work to do. We just need to get up, brush the dirt off our knees and keep trying.”

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