CRESTLINE — The COVID-19 pandemic hit many area small businesses hard in 2020. Several had to close their doors for months and even lay off employees while owners tried their hardest to stay afloat.
Thanks to the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce, several of those businesses were awarded grants to help them through the tough times. One of those businesses was Susan’s Doggy Spa in Crestline, located at 226 North Seltzer Street.
Owner Susan Sefcek is excited about receiving the grant, noting the funds will help make needed improvements to the business that she was saving for before COVID hit.
Susan’s Doggy Spa has been open in Crestline since 2014, but she has been grooming for over 20 years.
“We were in part of the workforce that had to shut down until non-essential was open,” she said. “We were closed between six and eight weeks, until the governor allowed non-essential businesses to open. So my second quarter was not great. Everybody, including myself was laid off for those first two months. The girls got their unemployment right away, mine, because I’m the business owner, took a little bit longer.
“But I still had my home bills, the business bills and all the bills and no income other than my unemployment and that took six weeks to get approved because they were rebuilding that system. So I got a little bit behind.”
Sefcek said had the shutdown not ended when it did last year, her business might not be open today.
“I really took it day-by-day, the whole pandemic and the whole shutdown,” she said. “I feel like if the shutdown would have gone on longer, possibly, yes, we (could have closed for good) with no income. But we hobbled through those two months. When we opened, at first it was busy because people had been waiting to come in and then it kind of tapered off because some people were still being pretty cautious. We were slower than we normally would.
“We were slower, but I still kept my staff at regular hours,” she said, noting she has four employees plus herself.
Sefcek said she is a member of the chamber of commerce so that was helpful when it came time to applying for the grant.
“And I believe Miranda (Jones, chamber executive director) brought her dog in here and told me about it too,” she said. “And with that grant we are expanding our lobby and break room to be more socially-distance compliant because whether the vaccine gets out and we’re all vaccinated, it’s going to be a long time before things are back to normal.”
Sefcek explained how she will use the grant funding.
“The lobby is a little bit small right now and our break room is the size of a closet,” she said. “So we’re investing some of our money into a lobby to keep our customers safe and a bigger break room to keep us safe because we’re all like a family. We’re a family in here and all our clients are too, so we just want to keep everyone safe.
“My grant was $7,500 and construction has already started,” Sefcek added. “It’s supposed to be on track to be finished by the end of February. Our lobby will triple in size and our break room will double in size and some of the grant money will be used to do some equipment improvements. And I’ll be able to maintain the local advertising I’ve been doing so that is not a burden on the business … those are things I’ve been maintaining the whole time.”
To make an appointment at Susan’s Doggy Spa, call 419-683-2022. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
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