In a time when small businesses are doing everything possible to stay alive and continue paying employees, GoFundMe has proven to be a much-needed lifeline. The fundraising website has 13,782 businesses and counting on a dedicated page to help small business owners struggling amid coronavirus.
Restaurants and food and drink services constitute an overwhelming number of businesses asking for cash, but there are also plenty of bookstores, daycare centers, comedy clubs, hotels, exercise studios and other local mom-and-pop shops that are scrambling to find ways to keep going, and to reopen their doors once it is safe to do so.
Below is a very small sampling of women-owned businesses that could use help.
The famed San Francisco, California store has been a book lovers’ haven since 1953 — and now it needs help after shuttering on March 16. From Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and CEO of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, who has been with the company for 33 years: “There are multiple generations … who derive a sense of comfort and inspiration from simply knowing that a place like City Lights can exist. If you’re in a position to support us we’ll be extremely grateful to receive that help, and any donation will contribute to the cash resources we need to address the immediate future, to take care of our staff, and to create the structures to take City Lights into the future.” So far, nearly 10,000 people have donated a whopping $476,366.
This New York City-based hospitality company is helmed by award-winning chef Missy Robbins, who was awarded two Michelin stars for her Brooklyn restaurants, Lilia and Misi, which feature Italian fare. She launched Grovehouse with business partner Sean Feeney in 2014. From Robbins: “We never thought that we would have to close our restaurants indefinitely and put our teams out of work. In an effort to make sure that our family is taken care of in this uncertain time we are raising money from you, the other part of our community who we could not do this without.” Robbins said “100% of proceeds” will go directly to staff to make up for lost income. They have so far raised $149,487.
The improv staple of New York and Los Angeles, which counts actress and comedian Amy Poehler as one of its founding members, is trying to raise money to pay its laid-off staff. The New York venue has raised $59,235 of a $60,000 goal while the Los Angeles venue is right behind at $58,674 — and the out-of-work funnymen and women couldn’t help turning it into a friendly competition. “Our fundraiser is competing with UCB NY so we had to raise the goal again. This community is wild, thanks for everything! <3,” a fundraising organizer wrote.
Owner Susan Little has put out a plea to save her Newburyport, Massachusetts, bookstore, and, like many others, she points out that she has applied for federal funding and small business loans, but she’s not sure when she will get it — or if it will be enough. She says bluntly, “We are running out of cash to pay our rent, utilities, payroll, liabilities and publishers, and make sure we have enough cash on-hand to re-open once we make it through.” She has raised $55,089 out of a $75,00 goal.
This Baltimore, Maryland, studio offers a community for dance devotees who come to learn the Lindy Hop and circus and aerial movement techniques, and also offers live music shows and a venue for weddings. Co-founder Sarah Sullivan, who began by offering Friday night swing dances, the company is now in danger of closing permanently despite raising $23,285 so far. One donor, Christine Rinehart, said Mobtown is “the only reason I am still in Baltimore.” “When I walked in the doors 3+ years ago I thought I had just found a cool place to dance,” she wrote on the campaign’s page. “I would have started looking for a new job in Norfolk, or Michigan, or out of the country … if not for the people that I have met there.”