COVID-19 halts new business owners, forcing many to adapt or give up

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —New business owners have been stopped in their tracks because of COVID-19 and while there are many programs for existing business, those who were looking to start a business are asking what help is geared toward them.

The Robyn’s Nest is a fashion boutique that was hoping to open it’s door for the first time in Pittsford. At the start of the year, Robyn Fazio Lasser’s online clothing sales were taking off and she wanted to open a physical location.

Lasser had just gotten the lease for her first shop when COVID-19 hit.

“We were really nervous I mean can we even have a brick and motor right now they’re closing everywhere,” said Fazio Lasser.

The outlook for new business is concerning. According to thinknum alternative Data, job listings at 30 most valuable start ups in the nation dropped an average of 21 jobs each. And start up funding for the first three months of 2020 was the second steepest decline in 10 years according to CB insights.

The obstacles for new business during COVID are leaving many with only two choices — to adapt or give up.

“The challenges, we definitely had to resign the space,” said Lasser. “I do this thing every week called the zoom top where I get a specific blouse or shift that looks great for zoom meetings.”

And while there are many programs mean to help existing business, not all new business qualify.

Lasser says she applied for a small business loan but did not meet the requirements. Some owners are turning to the City of Rochester’s Neighborhood and Business Development for help.

“We have a small business matching grant, up to $5,000,” said Gary Kirkmire, commissioner of neighborhood and business development. “KIVA program which is crown funding loans anywhere $1,000, zero interest up to three years that’s available.”

For Lasser, adapting her business plan let her to virtual showing and online sales allowed her to continue to grow her dream shop.

“It would easy for me to fall into this negative hole about oh this isn’t what I thought this was going to be but I’m trying to re imagine how I can help these woman now,” said Lasser.

The city of Rochester has says new business looking for hep can reach out.

The Robyn’s Nest in Pittsford is hoping to open its shop to customers soon, but in the meantime is doing curbside pick up.

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