PA Wilds businesses share stories of hardship, resilience in WCO Series
Across The Pennsylvania Wilds, businesses and organizations are turning obstacles into opportunities.
More than 70 days ago, counties across Pennsylvania were shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, shuttering the doors of businesses and changing our way of life. In an effort to share the stories of hardship and resilience amid the Wilds business community, The Wilds Cooperative of PA — an initiative of The PA Wilds — is conducting live interviews with business owners on Tuesdays and Thursdays online.
The result is a powerful collection of stories from across the region, called “Wilds Are Working: Rural Entrepreneurship in Uncharted Times.”
Here are some of them.
Laughing Owl Press Co.
Andrea and Joe Lanich, owners of Laughing Owl Press Co., took to social media immediately in an effort to let customers know: “We’re thinking of them. We’re here for them.” As a company that works with couples getting married as part of its business model, the duo had to ensure that, although weddings were being cancelled or rescheduled, they were able to help. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Pine Creek Valley is home to Cottage Glassworks, a fused glass business owned by Kathleen Schnell. Kathleen was interviewed early in the Wilds are Working series, where she talked about having to cancel an important aspect of her business: Workshops and classes. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Alabaster Coffee & Tea
Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Co. is located on Fourth Street in downtown Williamsport. When the shutdown began, owner Karl Fisher said that he had to sit his employees down and have some really tough conversations with them about collecting unemployment, resources available and more. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Rich Valley Apiary
A new aspect of their business, Ryan and Brandi Magaro in Emporium talk about having to shut down Rich Valley Wines just one month after opening. Plus, they talk about the many resources available to them in their community that have been influential during the pandemic. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Craft distillery CJ Spirits relies heavily on tourism for foot traffic in their business, from the nearby Allegheny National Forest and Kinzua State Park. Amid shutdown, owners Sam Cummings and Tom Jones — shifted gears amid COVID-19 and went from producing vodka and spirits to making hand sanitizer and antiseptic. Watch the interview and read the transcript.
Hello Social Co.
Social media marketing agency owner Ellen Matis shared in her interview that COVID-19 helped her find some clarity in her business, and made major changes in their business model and way they work. Plus, she talks about how the Payroll Protection Program loan helped her make decisions in a strategic way, instead of out of desperation. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Logyard Brewing, located in Kane, had been preparing for large rollouts in March — accounting for almost 80 percent of their business. Royce Novosel-Johnson and Mike Dunn shared what they ended up doing with a fully stocked cooler and fermenters full of beer when the stay-at-home order was placed. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
The Graphic Hive
Williamsport agency The Graphic Hive used their online skills to create online apparel stores for small businesses. — giving them some additional work to do amid shutdown while helping businesses generate funds in new ways. As of the time of their interview, that initiative had raised more than $35,000 for small businesses in a matter of weeks. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
Avenue 209 Coffee House
Avenue 209 Coffee House owners Jared Conti and Josh Grimes said that what’s kept them really going during a hard time is the inspiration of their customers. “You don’t realize how much you like your customers until you can’t see them anymore. And then when they come back, in those moments, you are just so grateful for them,” Grimes said. Watch the interview or read the transcript.
The “Wilds Are Working: Rural Entrepreneurship in Uncharted Times” series aims to:
- Cross-pollinate ideas, approaches and resources that small businesses and entrepreneurs in the PA Wilds are using to get their companies through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Invest in the sense of community among rural entrepreneurs in the PA Wilds during this challenging time.
- Raise awareness about the role small businesses play in the region’s rural economy, the challenges these companies face with the pandemic, and ways communities and customers can help.
Applications are still being accepted to share your own story. Apply at the Wilds Are Working page on the Wilds Cooperative of PA website.
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