Yesterday on Facebook, Anthony Cicalese, owner of We Got the Beat Record Store, posted a heartfelt open letter to Oakland Park City officials. The letter read:
Please keep in mind when you are carefully weighing what protocols to put into place in the interest of protecting everyone from COVID-19:
Try to avoid one-size fits all blanket proclamations that completely obliterate business. We entrepreneurs are a determined and creative bunch by nature; if there’s a way to safely take care of our customers, we will find it.
For example, restaurants may switch to a take out or delivery-only model temporarily, if they feel that is worthwhile vs. closing completely – but that decision should be up to them.
My two retail stores typically operate with one employee at a time. We may have one or two customers at a time throughout the day, and rarely more than a handful. We wipe everything down, we have hand sanitizer and gloves available for all employees and customers. I understand we may reach a tipping point where that’s no longer enough. If/when that happens:
We can very easily convert to a local home-delivery model. We can take pictures and videos of our merchandise, post them on social media, take payments over the phone or through our website, and leave the package at the customer’s door.
We can ramp up our existing online presence, selling more to ship all over the world from our own websites, eBay, Amazon, etc. (as we have done for 21 years.)
There will be enough work involved adding more items to our website that we can keep at least one employee working (again, even if the store is closed to the public.)
So if you do find it necessary to close “non-essential” businesses, as long as I still have access to my business locations to use them as more of a warehouse for my inventory, and as long as the USPS is still delivering, I can keep some kind of cash flow going, and protect against total financial ruin. Again, we business owners will do whatever it takes for our customers. I think the cities in which we exist would still like to have a record store when this is all over.
We may not be essential to society during a pandemic, but this business is essential to my family. I am asking that you are careful with your decisions and consider there are completely safe ways, as described above, our retail stores can still serve the public without ever coming into physical contact, as long as we have access to our merchandise and are free to fill orders.
Thank you for your consideration.
Tony Cicalese, owner
We Got The Beats Record Stores, Oakland Park and Lauderhill FL.
Cicalese addressed the letter to: Matt Sparks, Oakland Park Business Group, Dean Trantalis, City of Wilton Manors, City of Lauderhill, Jane Bolin, Tim Lonergan, Sara Guevrekian, Michael Carn, Mayor Ken Thurston, The Department of Record Stores
Adjustments for COVID-19 Quarantine
Cicalese is not alone in his concerns. Angela Rush, owner of Art in Oakland Park, shared in the Living In Oakland Park Facebook Group “… just missing this last weekend was a huge blow for my business“. The same concern was voiced by small businesses and their employess. There is tremendous concern about what their fate will be one or two months from now as the quarantine continues to limit peoples’ movement and calls for more social distancing.
Despite the challenges ahead Cicalese conveys that restrictions do not have to mean a death blow to a business as long as “… one-size fits all blanket proclamations” are not made. Cicalese reminds officials that entrepreneurs like himself “…are a determined and creative bunch by nature. If there’s a way to safely take care of our customers, we will find it”.
Cicalese is right in his assertion. Small businesses everywhere are making adjustments, as needed, in regards for public safety. As they continue to do so, here are some ways in which we, as a community, can support them:
Shop Online or Subscribe to Online Services
Many local stores and shops like We Got the Beats Record Store have an online presence. So while you may prefer to flip through the stacks of vinyl, for now you may have to flip through the photo gallery of vinyl available for sale. Nevertheless, it is temporary, so support them and other stores by shopping online.
Art in Oakland Park is offering online classes you can follow along from home. They even have a materials kit you can pick up at their store to complete the class.
Need to order a gift for someone for a special day? Order from a small business and have it delivered. Brittany Hopwood, owner of ViolStones, usually sells at local fairs. But she also has an online store where you can order custom handmade jewelry that is sure to make someone happy on their special day. It will also make a difference in helping Hopwood keep her business going while the fairs she depends on are closed.
Just like Cicalese, Rush and Hopwood are adapting to be able to serve their clientele, so will other small businesses. Find out how they are doing it, and continue to patronize them so you can help them make it through the quarantine.
Restaurants and bars have reduced their business hours and are serving at 50% capacity. Given the growth of various food delivery services, ordering delivery or even take out for pick-up at the door is a viable option to not only continue to enjoy your favorite eats and treats, but that will help restaurants continue to have cash flow until things normalize.
Peter Pan Diner, while open, also has delivery options through UberEats, PostMates and DoorDash. You can also pick-up. Today they are in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit and serving corned beef and cabbage, pick it up or take it out! No need to miss out!
In addition to Peter Pan, a number of other local restaurants are offering delivery and take out. Find out which ones they are and patronize them too.
Continue to Frequent, Within Reason
There are some business that are not able to service clientele online but that are taking precautions to insure everyone’s safety. Use your best judgement to continue to frequent those businesses within reason.
Hart to Hart Dental in Downtown Oakland Park recently posted:
“We want to assure all our patients that we are following the COVID-19 developments closely. We will remain open and take guidance from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health. We will continue to maintain the highest level of safety and patient care. If you have any questions regarding your future appointments, please don’t hesitate to call our office. In the meantime, wash your hands and stay healthy!“
The team at the Oakland Park Wellness Center conveyed they are operating by appointment only:
“In order to reduce staff and patients risk of exposure to COVID-19, the clinic will be operating by appointment only. Please call us at 954-635-2900 for a same day appointment. We thank you and hope you stay safe!”
The Pit Crew at Dick’s Service Station shared:
“To our loyal customers!
We wanted to reach out to our loyal customers about the COVID-19 coronavirus. As a small business, maintaining the health and safety of those visiting our shop is-and has always been, of the upmost priority… We have always prided ourselves on the cleanliness & the sterilization of our shop.
We continue to uphold the highest standards of cleanliness in the shop, it’s restroom & waiting room.
We are carefully monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation… We continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We will remain open, taking appointments & walk-ins for the time being. We will notify any appointments if there is any future changes to our hours of operation.
Our number one priority is to stay diligent and provide our customers with the excellent service that they have grown accustomed to”.
Eric A McKnight,
Christian P Santiago,
and the entire Pit Crew Staff.
Buy Gift Cards
Gift cards will give small business a little cash injection while we navigate the quarantine. Then at a later date you can cash in on your quarantine cash contribution by enjoying a nice dinner or by treating yourself to something.
Employee a Furloughed Worker
While business owners may not want to, they may have to furlough some of their employees. If you know of someone that has lost employment as a result and you can help them, do so! It may be something as simple as asking them to cut your lawn, or organize your garage. Think of things that can be done while staying at a safe distance that would still help someone earn a few extra bucks to stay afloat.
Pay them using Cash App, Paypal, Venmo or other payment service so that no cash is exchanged and the transaction is fruitful for both parties.
In every challenge there is opportunity. As we face the challenge of the Coronavirus, let’s take this opportunity to support each other as a community. Remember there is strength in unity and #TogetherWereOP !
If you know of another way to help small business? Share it with us in the comments section of this post.
If you are a small business and think you may need help, avail yourself of the resources below:
Florida SBDC Network Encourages Small Businesses to Complete Business Damage Assessment.
To take the Business Damage Assessment survey, please visit https://floridadisaster.biz/.
For more information regarding the Florida SBDC’s service offering and for preparedness and recovery resources, please visit http://floridasbdc.org/.
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About the Author
Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 31 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com , Désirée publishes three other blogs and has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism and to helping others with their real estate endeavors through education. Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.