SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center to provide assistance to businesses with reopening
Friday, May 22, 2020 - 6:04 pm

CANTON -- With area stores reopening, the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is looking to help businesses come up with reopening plans.

New York state requires every business to have a safety plan that encourages social and physical distancing in addition to new cleaning and disinfection strategies.

The SBDC has partnered with the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce (SLCCC) to outline business safety precaution plans during a series of free webinars. They've also suggested ways to promote retail reopening.

"Businesses should keep their website, social media and online listings updated with hours and procedures," said Brooke Rouse, SLCCC executive director.

"We realize this may sound intimidating, but we can help out with safety initiatives," SBDC Business Advisor Michelle A. Collins said in a news release. "A successful plan will help make your employees and customers more comfortable."

Phase One of the New York Forward reopening plan includes construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and wholesale trade. Select retail operations have opened for curbside or no-contact pickups. Hailey Hodge, owner of Luna Boutique in Canton, has created a new way to interact with her clientele through "Lookbox" subscriptions. Hodge specializes in carefully curating collections of clothing for shoppers. She's seen a spike in the service since the beginning of stay-at-home directives.

"We get requests for items or pieces picked specifically for that person's needs, style and size," she said. "A customer picks up a bin containing selections from the back porch at an agreed upon time with zero contact, then tries on the clothes for 1-2 days. They can bring the box back with the items they don't want inside."

Most patrons opt to keep the entire selection of items that Hodge picks out for them, she said.

Potsdam's Foster the Plant has stayed open through the entire PAUSE directive, according to owner Lynzie S. Schulte. The vegan café offers online and phone ordering and pickup options. In addition to their single-serve meals and smoothie bowls, they've expanded their selection by developing family meals that serve four to six people.

"We normally didn't make family meals, but we were able to adapt to the situation and provide fresh plant-based food for the community," Schulte said. "They've been very popular."

Foster the Plant routinely sells out of the new option, Schulte said.

Sara J. Sharlow, owner of LifeStyles Salon in Potsdam, has been engaging with her clients on social media even when her services aren't available. As an already active Facebook user, she turned to the platform to connect with clients that she hadn't seen and used her online presence to sell products.

"I did a video of how to cut your bangs, make-up tutorials and offered a few hairstyling tricks," she said. "Mostly I've been trying to stay in touch with everyone and see how everyone is doing."

When the salon reopens, there will be new rules on how the stylist operates and schedules appointments. She said these rules won't stand in the way of her business.

"I'm looking forward to continuing one-on-one personalized service," Sharlow said.

For reopening guidance, or more information about the services offered through the SBDC, email [email protected].


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