Albert Lea companies adapt to beat COVID-19 difficulties
There’s little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has modified the world in quite a few devastating methods. The consequences might be felt everywhere in the native economic system. Nevertheless, some native companies determined to shift their fashions and provide providers and items they didn’t provide earlier than in an effort to fight the consequences of the virus.
Kim Olson, proprietor of Grandma’s Gourmets, and Bryan Cunningham, proprietor of The Yankee Catering, each knew early on their companies had been going to take a success. On the time, they didn’t know the way lengthy the pandemic would final, however they knew they wanted to do one thing to maintain their respective companies going.
Olson initially thought the two-week shutdown was going to deliver the worst of all of it, however after the two-week interval was prolonged, she knew simply ready round for the tip of the pandemic wasn’t going to work. She estimated she could be out of enterprise in about three months if she didn’t change up her marketing strategy.
Whereas on a convention name with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Basis, Olson talked about how she had baked some pies for some pals who had birthdays in March, and the concept so as to add a bakery to her enterprise mannequin was born.
After making the mandatory calls to arrange her new operation, Olson set to work by making batches of rolls, cookies, small truffles and different baked items. She quickly added charcuterie boards and take-and-bake meals to her menu of things.
By the point June rolled round, the shutdown was starting to ease up for the primary time.
“Issues had been form of opening again up at totally different ranges,” Olson mentioned. “I assumed ‘OK, that is going to be accomplished now. We’ll simply proceed doing this a pair days every week and we’ll see.’”
After making it by these months, the COVID-19 numbers began to pattern within the mistaken means as soon as once more, and Olson mentioned they went proper again to what they had been doing — solely this time she needed so as to add extra merchandise. She added soups and single-serve hotdishes.
Olson mentioned it was troublesome to market to a brand new group of individuals after being a largely wholesale enterprise for a few years, however she is grateful for the individuals who have come out to assist.
“It was so superior that individuals got here out to this clearly business constructing to assist our enterprise,” Olson mentioned. “It isn’t like strolling into a standard retail setting. I’m so grateful that so many nice individuals have supported our enterprise… We’re grateful that individuals gave us an opportunity.”
Though Olson mentioned she doesn’t know what the long run may have in retailer, she is aware of it’s unlikely going to be the identical because it used to.
“I’m nonetheless nervous it’s not going to return again,” she mentioned. “It’s not going to be precisely prefer it was in December 2019. … I don’t know what this 12 months’s going to be like, however so long as individuals hold supporting us, we’re going to maintain going.”
For Cunningham, he knew the shutdown was going to drastically influence his catering firm due to the ban on in-person gatherings of greater than 10 individuals.
After taking a pair weeks off to resolve find out how to fight the impacts of the shutdown, Cunningham selected taking on take-and-bake meals for individuals to buy and take residence.
“We kinda bought the ball rolling immediately with take-and-bake meals,” Cunningham mentioned. “We’ll create a menu each two weeks and put it out on Fb or ship it through e-mail each two weeks. Folks can select the meals they wish to come decide up, or we additionally provide free supply.”
Whereas the brand new additions to the enterprise haven’t despatched income by the roof, Cunningham mentioned it’s been sufficient to maintain the enterprise afloat.
As soon as the pandemic begins to subside, Cunningham mentioned he plans to maintain providing the take-and-bake meals for households and people, particularly through the winter months.
The shutdown was particularly powerful for The Yankee Catering as a result of the enterprise had simply began not lengthy earlier than the consequences of the pandemic started to point out. Simply beginning to get the ball rolling when the pandemic hit, Cunningham mentioned he isn’t certain what the long run goes to appear to be, however he’s remaining optimistic.
“I’m very optimistic for the long run,” Cunningham mentioned. “I’m beginning to really feel like we would see a light-weight on the finish of the tunnel now. I do know we’re nonetheless a methods away but, however the worry doesn’t really feel as unhealthy because it as soon as did.”