Local Businesses Greatly Impacted by COVID-19

Alexis Weiss, Reporter

As the impacts from the global pandemic come into focus, local businesses are struggling to stay afloat. With recent COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns, businesses that once were bustling with attraction now only have a slow stream of customers. 

Redwood Bagel, a family-owned bagel company located in Novato, has struggled to stay in business during the pandemic. 

“We are very lucky in the sense that for almost 30 years now, we have been take-out only. We don’t do ‘dine-in,’ so when there was a shut down where there’s no dine-in or outdoor dining, we weren’t affected as much,” owner Henry Nieh said. “We were affected because people thought we were closed.”

They have had to make many adjustments to survive. 

“We’ve had to eliminate some stuff that wasn’t selling well, basically shrinking the size of our menu. We’ve also had to cut staff,” Nieh said. 

He also mentioned how the sellers they buy from have had to cut down on how much they can produce, causing a shortage of food that they depend on. 

Restaurants aren’t the only businesses struggling. Gyms, educational services and salons have also been greatly challenged. 

Nicole Carrow, a hairdresser and Novato High parent, worked at Studio 34 in Mill Valley for 11 years, before closing due to the pandemic. They couldn’t afford to spend any more on PPE and were struggling with the limited amount of customers they were able to serve. 

“We had to add 15 minutes between each client to sanitize and when all that time adds up, it means less clients in a day,” Carrow said. They went from serving an average of eight clients in a day to six, a significant drop in customers and income. 

“Our lease was up in October,” she said. “Our landlord was not willing to put a Covid clause in our lease or let us rent month-to-month, so we had to walk away from the salon. It was devastating for us but we couldn’t continue to pay rent for a place we couldn’t work.” 

Carrow is now planning to build her own salon in her backyard, something she never thought she would do. 

Gyms have also been affected. Rob Domont, GM and owner at Rolling Hills Club in Novato, shared his take on the situation. 

“We went from the best year in our history to the worst,” he said. “We had so many customers leave or not pay their dues.” 

Rolling Hills is just one of many gyms who have made significant changes to the way they serve their customers; they have gone from indoor classes to outdoor classes in order to follow guidelines put out by the state.

“We put up over 50 pop-up tents to create group fitness classes, cycling classes, and for swimmers as well,” Domont said. “We now have the largest variety of outdoor fitness in Marin that is socially distanced and follows all PPE rules set forth by the state and county. We have reinvented how we provide our services.”

So many businesses have been forced to adapt to these unfortunate times. The impact will be seen for years to come. Businesses everywhere have had to reinvent themselves and the way they function. Because of this, we need to do our best as customers to support them and make sure they can survive this tough time.