Small businesses reflect on 2020 and look toward the future in downtown Farmington

As we near the end of the tumultuous year that is 2020, a place like downtown Farmington has seen its share of challenges, yes, but it has also experienced plenty to celebrate.

New businesses have opened despite the pandemic. Transformative projects that will usher downtown into the next decade have taken root. Creativity abounds. The list goes on and on.

With the year coming to a close, we thought it would be a good time to survey some downtown businesses and take their temperature, to see what they’ve thought about the past year and what they hope for the next.

We asked two simple questions: Looking back on the challenges of 2020, what’s something inspiring you’ve discovered about the relationship between your business and the community? What are your hopes and plans for 2021?

These are their answers.

Sidecar Slider Bar

While 2020 has been crazy in many ways, it has still been a good year for business. We only were open for 14 months when restaurants shut down for indoor dining in March, so we were definitely the new place in town. Staying open for carryout-only was a big risk for us, since we weren't doing a ton of to go orders. But Farmington came through! We were busier than we expected thanks to our community, and we were able to keep some key staff employed. We also were able to continue our First Responders Eat Free program on the first-of-the-month by doing deliveries. To further confirm that Farmington was the right place to open our restaurant, we were voted Business of the Year for 2020 by the Farmington Area Jaycees. We're thrilled to be a part of this community!

In 2021, we hope to get back to some sort of normal. Definitely looking forward to patio season since we have three outdoor spaces for guests to enjoy! We will continue our Virtual Happy Hour and slinging sliders and drinks on our heated patio (which is open now) or for carry-out.

Alfieri Hair Craft

Despite the challenges 2020 has introduced, I think it’s important to stand by the local community. I've spent a lot of time going around talking to local businesses and offering help with anything I can. Covid has pretty well ruined my ideas for collaborations and fun events with other local businesses. However, in some aspects it’s shown who's truly passionate about their business and team of employees. I know I will enjoy working with those local businesses for fun events in the future.

My hopes for the future and 2021 are pretty simple: Establish ourselves more in the local business community. And be a safe place for everyone to come to. As a client or as a business owner, I like to offer as much support as I can. I love doing events with other businesses as a way to grow everyone’s platform and create a network of businesses who can become unstoppable when together. Also, I can't wait to grab a drink with my business neighbors and celebrate like we used to.

Bodhi Yoga

We had a good year in 2019. We had a consistent base of returning students, preparing to host our first yoga retreat. We were looking forward to 2020 being similar, and I believe we were on track to continue that way. Until obviously March changed a lot of things for us, especially small business owners. In March our bustling studio was now closed and we had to pivot to livestreaming all our classes. We are managing to stay afloat via virtual classes, selling merchandise and of course the support of Bodhi students continuing their memberships with us. Virtual classes don't provide the same in-person experience and motivation, making it hard to retain students, but many people don't feel comfortable going back to small, enclosed rooms just yet. As of the future of this industry, I'm not sure.

Clothes Encounters of Farmington

2020 has definitely been a challenge, to say the least, for many businesses to flourish. Regarding my circumstances and business, Clothes Encounters, I found an outpouring of community support as well as continued support from our customer base which really stepped up. It also brought the business community together since we were all suffering the same consequences of shutdowns and restrictions. I found that the DDA really worked hard and provided promotions and insight as to how we could maintain our businesses while keeping the public safe to the public. A lot of brainstorming has gone on over this past year.

As far as the upcoming year, it's going to take a while until the public feels safe and confident when visiting and shopping as they did before. I believe in time that businesses will get back to some kind of normalcy. I'm sure things will have to be changed in order to accomplish that. What those things are, I'm not quite sure yet. I have learned over the last few decades that adjustments are always being made in order to thrive and stay in business. What new adjustments that will have to made, I'm not quite sure. We can only hope for the best.

The Vines Flower & Garden Shop

Our community has been extremely supportive of our business. We have had to make many changes to keep our business going and the response has been great. We had a crowdfunding campaign and met our goal the very first day even though we were given 30 days! The money raised was matched by MEDC through their grant program. We saw a crazy amount of customers becoming plant enthusiasts! We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from our community, customers, friends and family.

Our hopes for 2021 are for all the weddings and other events that were put on hold to be able to go forward with a party worth waiting for.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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