Carson City resident and photographer Alejandra Rubio recently interviewed several area businesses to learn about challenges and opportunities stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how various closures and social distancing restrictions are impacting operations now and in the future.
Below are highlights from the interviews. Note that some of the responses came prior to Gov. Sisolak’s Phase 1 reopening on May 9.
Alex and Jen Tinsley, coaches and co-owners, Axle CrossFit, Carson City
“Life has changed and schedules have changed. It’s hard to have class times that fit everyone’s needs, so we try to program workouts our athletes can do when it fits their schedules … Zoom was introduced to the fitness community right away, and you saw virtual classes pop up everywhere, but it was quickly realized that Zoom was not prepared and had security issues with its platform. This was a concern of ours to make sure we were protecting our athletes from any type of security issues. We researched the platform and made sure our classes were safe and protected with a password … Since our forced closure, we have been doing weekly challenges to earn points and keep athletes motivated. These challenges include fun ways to earn points, like going for a 20-minute walk, taking pictures of nature, and supporting local businesses. Our prizes for each week are designed to drive business back into our community.”
Claudia and Alberto Fuentes, Fuentes Restaurant and Cantina, Minden (formerly of Carson City)
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to shut down and examine to ensure that we can continue to deliver our authentic meals to the community. During the shut-down, we deep cleaned, did inventory, restocked and were able to reestablish and start serving our community … At first, we opened up for six days of the week, but it was hard on us since we had to cut down in staff, so we decided to open up three days out of the week for about four hours … Since the shut-down, we have taken a 90% decrease in our revenue It has been rough for us because we are freshly new owners here in Minden, and we had to start building our community — now we are struggling to keep our fellowship since they are unable to come in and enjoy their drinks and meal with us. But at the same time, we feel we have to develop a small alliance that continues to support us during these hard times. We want to thank them and send them our love because, without them, we would not survive all this.”
Angela Wolf, owner, Gather, Carson City
“Initially, business was down about 80%. However, I think that people slowly got used to the idea of getting takeout, particularly since they didn’t have any other options if they wanted to eat out. I am thankful to our community for continuing to support us by ordering takeout, and our current customers are referring new customers to us as well. Although business is not what it was pre-closure, I’m happy to say that business is has remained steady and we are staying afloat … As far as the future of restaurant dining, we are prepared to offer takeout only for as long as that directive is in place. We are prepared for it taking some months. We are aware of new safety protocols that have been proposed, including moving tables 6 feet apart, all staff wearing masks and gloves, and sanitizing tables, chairs, and menus after each use. We have already implemented the gloves/masks policy for the few staff members who are on shift at a time, and we have adopted all sanitizing practices recommended by the CDC and Nevada Health Department authorities. We are prepared to implement any additional changes that are required by the health authorities immediately upon reopening. We believe that this will provide guests with a level of comfort, so they can return to some normalcy as far as enjoying a meal out.”
Breanna Naccarato, trainer and owner, Loved Momma Fitness, Carson City
“The positives my business has seen from (the pandemic) is that it has taught be how to improve my verbal communication with my clients instead of always demonstrating movements. I have actually since developed a virtually group training class that the women who are apart of absolutely love. We will be keeping the structure even after the stay-at-home order has lifted because we have women in that group who are not local and the virtual concept works really well for busy moms … (Shifting to remote coaching) has caused me to become more creative with my programming to accommodate those who have a very limited amount of workout equipment or even none at all. I have also had a greater virtual reach and have connected with a lot of women all over the country. This is huge and so cool to get to do, because now I have even more options to offer to clients and I can now coach remotely confidently which allows and has allowed me to work with women who aren’t just local. I feel there is beautiful silver lining to this all for my business.”
Kellie Lee, owner and creator, Rowdy Bar, Reno
“We are coping just fine with the (pandemic). We don’t have a lot of employees. The biggest issue we are having with the shut-downs is that we are a new item and a lot of the retailers have a freeze on new item reviews, which impacts our ability to sell and grow … We are running promotions through our website. For example: we just ran one that if you spent $40 or more you got Rowdy Cash back to spend in your local businesses and communities ... We have also donated product to first responders and hospitals, as well as supporting our partnership with JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) … We are positive people and so we try to keep everything positive. Our biggest thing is it hurts us to see so many people out of work and struggling. We probably won’t change much because of the virus, if we change at all, it will be because of our natural growth as a company. Of course, we will keep working hard to support the employees we do have. We love Reno. I am a fourth-generation Renoite and it pains me to see so many small businesses hurting right now.”
Michael Fischer, coach and co-owner, Silver Strike Crossfit, Carson City
“I wouldn’t call anything we have faced so far a problem. Change is difficult, so we just want to be there to support our members in any way we can while their lives are so unsure right now. We have pivoted our business to online-live classes. Community is the center of all we do, so we want all members to be able to keep being a part of this community as much as possible … We run anywhere from 4-5 classes a day ranging from CrossFit-at-home workouts to yoga. We record our workouts and have put them on YouTube as well. We have worked to make sure members have what they need to be successful at home. This has included lending out equipment from the gym to keeping everyone moving as optimally as possible … We are also doing weekly challenges, ranging from most runs to making donations to local food banks. We will and always will be about making each member feel ‘seen and heard,’ so we reach out to each member every single week to see how they are doing and feeling. What we need most is to be and feel supported. This is our goal every day, inside and outside the gym.”