Glenville Praised for Providing Loans for COVID Affected Businesses



GLENVILLE – Even in the best of times, keeping a business afloat, especially one that hasn’t been open for long, can be challenging.

So, you can imagine the horror three growing businesses in Schenectady County felt when they had to abruptly close a store last year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Owners of Storied Coffee Café, Girl Fight Fitness and the post-opening Thistle Be Perfect Artisan boutique say the microloans they got from Glenville last year have been a lifesaver.

“It meant keeping the doors open, it really was, it was a lifeline because we had absolutely no income,” said Cassie Walker, owner of Thistle Be Perfect in Glenridge Road, which only sells handmade items.

The Amanda Gonzalez-Barone Girl Fight Gym on Highway 50 was only open a few months when COVID erupted.

“We finally achieved the desired result after all the costs of installing the new building, we finally started to normalize a little, and that’s when everything fell apart and we were forced to close,” she said.

She said the $ 4,000 loan helped cover rent and equipment so she could change course and offer outdoor activities.

“We got creative and we do these harsh lessons of strong women with tires, sledgehammers and things we really can’t do indoors without doing serious damage, so that’s how we changed and adapted,” said Gonzalez-Barone …

Rich Sarnacki, co-owner Legendary coffee on Mohawk Avenue in Scotland with his wife, Christine Sarnaki, said the location had been open for a year before being forced to close the store.

Sarnaki said that when times were tough for the business, they were forced to lay off three part-time employees and started using the app and taking orders over the phone; customers picked them up from the table at the front door of the establishment.

The coffee shop reopened in June 2020, was rebuilt to comply with 6-foot social distancing guidelines, and gradually began re-hiring its employees.

“This (loan) continues to be really useful, it’s just a pillow that we didn’t have to worry too much about how we would handle,” said Rich Sarnacki of the $ 15,000 loan the couple took out.

He said the money helped pay rent and utility bills, which they continued to pay throughout the pandemic. “It also gave us the opportunity to explore an additional opportunity with other resources.”

Sarnaki said in January that they opened a second location on Upper Union Street in Schenectady, which he said “would not have been possible without the flexibility that the loan has given us.”

Glenville Observer Chris Quetzl said that last year, at the height of the pandemic, the city, through the city’s Local Development Corporation (LDC), issued interest-free loans for the year without interest for the year.

He said that the “vast majority” of businesses took the maximum $ 15,000 currently being paid.

“It was kind of like an emergency: ‘Here’s some money to help you’ to either keep someone or buy inventory,” Quetzle said, adding that “this is very purposeful.”

Quetzle said he knew businesses in neighboring Scotland were struggling, so in 2020 he signed a waiver allowing them to participate in the program. “There was a great need and we wanted to help,” said the leader.

Gonzalez-Barone, who has a second gym in Latama, said all gyms were completely closed until late August when the state allowed them to operate with limited bandwidth. She also ran a rent moratorium that was renewed every few months.

“We had so much uncertainty, we didn’t know how we were going to pay these bills and the bills kept piling up and it really depended on how lenient your landlord was with a business like mine, because this is one of your biggest spending is a gym room, ”she added. “The big relief we thought we were getting didn’t really help us, and when we struggled to find some relief, the city really came up and gave it to us,” she said.

Walker had been in business for only about 10 months when the pandemic stopped her.

She turned to social media to auction items from the store.

“Where other stores could do well with online shopping, we really couldn’t, because you really have to see it in order to choose which one you like,” Walker said, taking out a $ 6,000 loan. “He filled the hole.”

Sarnacki and other business owners praised Quetzle and his employees for their efforts to disseminate information and work with merchants to make sure they get what they need.

“I’ve always heard about how important Glenville is to their business, but I’ve actually experienced it myself,” Walker said. “It’s really amazing being a business owner in Glenville, they really care about business, big and small.”


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