Rolling with the Punches and Lifting Up Other Small Businesses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — As we Rally Around Small Business, we surveyed area business owners to see who is back to “normal” as day-to-day life starts to open back up.

The results are a mixed bag. Over the next few weeks, we’ll spotlight these snapshots on our website, email newsletters and social media platforms.

What follows is a selection of businesses and their responses.

Soft Touch ‘Rolls with the Punches’

Submitted by Jake Ellis, project and marketing manager, Soft Touch Furniture

Is your business back to normal? 

We have gone through a time like no other before. We adapt. We pivot. We roll with the punches. When it comes to being normal for business, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each business has its own unique challenges. Fortunately, our workplace is no stranger to change. We are constantly looking for ways to improve, streamline workflow, meet our customers’ needs more effectively and create a better workplace for our employees. 

These have always been goals of ours even pre-pandemic. So, when the pandemic happened and forced businesses to tweak their strategies, we already had an adaptive mindset. Nobody was prepared for a pandemic but our willingness to evolve our business over the last 45-years gave us experience in how to implement necessary plans to effectively navigate the changing times.

What is your “new normal?”

Our new normal puts a strong emphasis on customer and employee safety. Previously, safety consisted of making sure our shop equipment and emergency medical equipment were in top condition to keep our employees safe. We visit with customers at their installation locations to make sure everyone knows the plan and that keeps us all out of harms way on site. 

Now, we have an invisible threat, a virus, to keep at bay. We use masks at our facility and require customers to do the same. We have plenty of hand sanitizer on site. We keep our bathrooms in extremely clean condition. We’ve recently installed an ionizer to trap bacteria and improve air quality in our showroom. A number of our employees have already received a vaccination and we do what we can to assist employees with finding accessible vaccination locations. We believe the vaccine will help bring us closer to how things were pre-pandemic but we also plan on making sure to keep a clean, safe and healthy facility.

How do you Rally Around Small Business and support the business community?

We try to source our materials locally as much as possible. Our two main supplies for furniture are wood and foam. Suppliers of these products have been hit especially hard over the last year. We continue to work with suppliers of both wood and foam in Ohio and appreciate the products they provide for us. 

On the hospitality front, we work with both chain and locally owned restaurants, hotels, airports and more. We are committed to providing all of them with the best possible custom furniture products at the most reasonable prices and are making sure they have what they need as the hospitality and travel industries get back to normal. 

Finally, we are here for our residential customers just as we always have been for 45-years. In 2021 we have been offering discounts on things such as cushion foam replacements and wood furniture refinishing. Our hope is that these discounts allow the people in our local community to keep some extra money in their wallets so they can pay for necessities or invest in their own businesses. We love our community and we love our customers.

HHSDR Architects Accommodates Employees

Submitted by Frank Gargiulo, planner, HHSDR Architects/Engineers

Is your business back to normal?

Yes. We accommodate employees with special needs during this pandemic to work from home, and allow flex time to ease personal schedule needs.

What is your “new normal?”

Really, it looks much like the old normal.

How do you Rally Around Small Business and support the business community?

We support local businesses in our purchasing decisions whenever possible, we patronize local businesses and we contribute to client fundraisers, much as we did before the pandemic.

Simple Greek’s ‘New Normal’ Is the Same

Submitted by Sean Ferrier, owner, The Simple Greek

Is your business back to normal? 

The restaurant is trying to return to normal best we can. Limited seating remains. Sales-wise, we are down like most but slowly starting to see an increase.

What is your “new normal?”

The new normal remains the same: be safe, serve great food and have exceptional customer service and guest centered experiences.

How do you Rally Around Small Business and support the business community?

Ship to them, eat there, buy gift cards, tip employees and post positive reviews on social media.