by Mark Van Streefkerk
Coffee professional Geetu Vailoor had never thought about owning a café, but in February the idea was pitched to her by the owner of Union Coffee, who was looking to pass the business on to someone else. After some rigorous soul-searching, Vailoor said yes. Previous owner Zach Reinig closed the shop on March 15, and on March 19 Vailoor reopened the Central District café as her own. The turnkey operation happened right as Washintgon imposed a stay-at-home mandate. Seated service was put to a halt by March 22. For some cafés, COVID-19 has meant temporary or even permanent closures — but Geetu has remained open for takeout coffee and pastries throughout the pandemic.
“I never expected anything like what is happening right now,” Vailoor remembered. “I think I wanted to be super optimistic. I reached out to SBA to get a small business mentor, and all of them were like, ‘Don’t do this. This is crazy. You should not be taking over a small business right now, especially one that’s a commodity product.’ I just believed it would work out. I just had a feeling.”
Continue reading Coffee in the Time of COVID: Geetu Vailoor Takes On Central District’s Union Coffee
by Sharon H. Chang
It was back in February — what now seems a lifetime ago — when Bill Tashima first heard people were avoiding Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (ID) because of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. It was still winter, COVID-19 was not yet a pandemic, and only one known U.S. case existed in nearby Snohomish County (in a man who had visited Wuhan). But because Seattle’s Chinatown, a historically Asian immigrant community, was being perceived as directly connected to China where the outbreak began in December, businesses in the ID had been experiencing decline as early as January. Restaurants were getting hit especially hard.
Continue reading How a Facebook Group Supporting Seattle’s Chinatown Became a COVID-19 Community Movement
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Rainier Valley community members raised more than $5,000 last week, which they distributed to six local businesses and one community project to show solidarity with local businesses suffering due to restrictions caused by the novel coronavirus.
Continue reading “I want them all to be here when we emerge from this” — South Seattleites Raise Funds for Local Businesses
by Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilmember
March 15 was one of the hardest days of my professional life. That was the day Governor Jay Inslee announced expanded limitations on large gatherings and closures of certain small businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Immediately after his order came down, my email inbox and social media channels were flooded with messages from terrified King County residents. I heard from restaurant owners saying the restaurants they had operated for generations were in jeopardy; barber shop and beauty salon owners wondering how they could continue paying their commercial rent; Uber drivers facing imminent financial demise.
Continue reading OPINION: Keeping People Housed; Keeping Small Businesses Alive
by Marcus Harrison Green
Count Monika Matthews among the growing legion of Americans who abhor the consumerist carnage induced by Black Friday, the day when retail store aisles become indiscernible from WWE wrestling rings. Continue reading For Local Merchants, Small Biz Saturday Outpaces Black Friday Rush