Running a Family Owned Business During a Pandemic
Written by Gina Schlegel on April 24, 2021
Back in March of 2020 when shutdowns were first being announced Gwen Rosenberg owner of Popped! explained the fear of if her business would be next to shut down. The coronavirus pandemic was proven to be difficult on all businesses, especially locally owned ones. Rosenberg is the owner of Popped! in Kent along with the Ravenna location which was recently opened back in August of 2019. Popped! has been in Kent since 2012 when Acorn Alley was first built.
When Governor DeWine asked for all non-essential businesses to close, Rosenberg made the difficult decision to close both of her locations for a little under two months.
“People thought we were out of business because we had closed,” said Rosenberg. “It was really very confusing, it was confusing for customers, and it was confusing for us.”
Something that Rosenberg has struggled with when she decided to reopen the locations again was her staff of about a dozen before the shutdowns. She made sure to evaluate her staff and meet their needs to ensure that the ones who were willing to work were getting hours. This was done through an individual case by case basis for her staff. This is something she explained was not easy to do.
“Who has bills piling up, and who would rather hold off and not potentially expose themselves,” said Rosenberg.
Rosenberg decided to make a big change back in October of 2020 for the Kent location of Popped! This location moved from Acorn Alley to a new location right around the corner on 138 E Main Street in downtown Kent.
“I am happy with the move, I am glad that we did it,” said Rosenberg. “I feel like it has increased visibility.”
Through this move they saved on the cost of rent due to the lower square footage of the new shop. She also made the decision to no longer sell ice cream at the new location due to the cost of labor and lower demand of ice cream since the shutdowns.
Rosenberg also explained that she is happy their move opened up a space for a new business called The Fruit Stand that took over their old shop location in Acorn Alley.
“We were able to refocus on what we wanted to do and where our heart was and where we wanted to take our business in the future,” said Rosenberg.
Since students, faculty and staff have been back for the semester Rosenberg has noticed more traffic downtown. She explains that Valentine’s Day weekend was a big day for her business because they participated in The Chocolate Walk. The Chocolate Walk was an event held on February 13 where anyone could buy a ticket and participate in a walk through downtown Kent visiting participating businesses.
“I am optimistic with the vaccination coming out, I feel like customers are feeling a little more confident to venture out and do a little more retail shopping,” said Rosenberg.
Being on Main Street has made the shop a lot more visible and has increased foot traffic for Popped!
“I think a lot of people are finding their small locally owned businesses were always safer than the grocery stores, the Walmart’s and the big box places that didn’t seem to maintain the social distancing that the smaller owned places were able to enforce,” said Rosenberg.