By Samantha Domingo
Fresno County has declared a state of emergency after health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Fresno.
With officials urging residents to practice social distancing and the cancelation of large events, many owner-operated businesses in Fresno are left wondering how they’ll make ends meet.
It’s uncertain times for Gail Zack, co-owner of Zack’s Brewery in Downtown Fresno. Zack shared her concerns over business slowing down in the past few weeks, the cancelation of FresYes Fest, and the cancelation of Grizzlies home games. She claims to have seen an immediate drop in business since COVID-19 hit Fresno.
(Gail and Steve Zack, owners of Zack's Brewing Co. located at 712 Fulton St.)
“We’ve probably lost about $15,000 as of this last weekend and next weekend. It’s a big hit,” said Zack. “Downtown has lost a few events this year already and the coronavirus pandemic is not helping the situation.
Zack expressed her disappointment in the sudden loss of business. The brewery, which had opened in late 2018, was finally starting to get busier as more businesses opened up in the area.
Practicing social distancing is difficult for a tap room, according to Zack. Her main concern is how to generate business without customers coming into the tap room. Although other businesses might be able to come up with ways to get around this obstacle, like through food delivery or online sales, it simply isn’t an option for Zack’s Brewery.
(Inside of Zack's Brewery)
“Right now my husband, myself, and my daughter are working at the brewery. We don’t pay ourselves, so if we get sick and can’t come in, we'll have to be closed,” said Zack. “If I can’t make money and pay rent, I’m not sure what's going to happen.”
Monisha Edwards, owner of two small businesses that operate in Fresno, shares the same concerns. Edwards runs Truth Branding, a brand strategy and marketing agency, and Scent & Fire Candle Company, which makes all-natural soy wax candles to promote self care and mental health.
(Monisha Edwards, owner of Truth Branding and Scent & Fire Candle Company, located at 700 Van Ness #001)
“I rely on the big festivals such as FresYes Fest and ArtHop for revenue, we do popups for my candle company. Now I have all these extra supplies that I don’t know what to do with,” said Edwards. “With the branding agency, a lot of the companies I planned to work with have pulled out. I'm looking at a loss of four or five figures.”
Edwards has looked into other ways to build revenue remotely during times of social distancing. She is currently planning to host online workshops and webinars for those looking into branding and marketing strategies, and plans on having an online flash sale for Scent & Fire.
Edwards and Zack both remain hopeful that once the coronavirus fears have passed, business will return. Both stressed the importance of supporting local businesses during these difficult times.
“We shouldn’t let this pandemic get us down. It does feel like weird times right now, but don’t let it affect our thinking, our responsibilities,” said Edwards. “It might be a little tough, but just remain hopeful that everything will pass.”
“This is something we've never gone through as a nation before, but we just have to survive. Once we're feeling better and allowed to go out again, come down and see us! Don’t forget about us,” said Zack. “We'll weather the tough times, we'll tough it out. Never forget toilet paper 2020. I feel like we’re going to get some really good beer names out of this when we can all laugh about it.”