In It Together
Chris Maykut, Phinney Neighborhood Association’s Business Membership Coordinator has a unique perspective on the well being of the local businesses during this time of mandatory closings of non-essential businesses. He says “Well there is pre covid and covid”. Two very distinct chapters in his daily work. Before the outbreak of the contagious flu Chris’s primary focus and passion was all about helping local small businesses in the community thrive!
As a leader in the community, the PNA organizes multiple community networking events to faciliate new connections and lasting relationships. From what we understand the PNA really knows how to throw a networking event that feels much more like a party! Two of the most popular events include the annual community Pride celebration, Rainbow Hop, and the wildly popular monthly throw down, Bingo Karaoke.
You can hear the enthusiasm in his voice and his words when he talks about the value in supporting local businesses. As an example, Chris explains the joy and simple pleasure that comes from being a regular at the local bookstore Phinney Books. It’s worth the 2 extra dollars he may spend on a book because of the one-of-a-kind experience he gets from visiting the mom & pop bookshop. Even his kids love it! They can walk to the bookstore by themselves and enjoy the cozy atmosphere while reading a book in the back of the store. He also talks about the local coffee shops and restaurants both new and established that make this thriving neighborhood within the big city feel like a family affair. Chris, wholeheartedly embraces the neighborhood and enthusiastically spreading the word about the local businesses couldn’t be more natural for him.
A Different Day
But wow how his business coordination duties have changed since Governor Inslee issued the stay at home order in Washington. With the onset of the coronavirus Chris’s focus has changed from helping businesses thrive to providing guidance on how to survive through the Covid Pandemic. Lately his days include fielding questions from small business owner members about how to keep their lively-hood afloat during this tumultuous upheaval of daily life.
New to this as anybody, Chris spends much of his time sorting through the details of the federal stimulus package, available grants and potential loan opportunities so he can pass on this knowledge to PNA members seeking guidance. He says it is a thin line because he is just learning himself but he knows how helpful his research is for community members seeking answers.
A Time of Suspended Animation
In many ways local businesses are all in this together but it’s the “devil in the details” that make every small business’s challenges different. While the world seams like it is in a suspended animation a huge issue facing many is paying rent and what that looks like for their future! For brick and mortar businesses who are not generating revenue because their doors are shut, Chris’s top recommendation is for business owners to talk to their landlords to know where they stand. He references an article published by the Seattle Times titled “It will not go forgotten’: One Seattle business and its tale of two landlords during the coronavirus crisis”. The article demonstrates just how opposite the circumstances of commercial renting can be for businesses. It runs along a continuum from landlords completely forgiving the rent for a few months to property owners who demand payment in full when the stimulus ends. What will follow for many is a financial rabbit hole with limited good solutions, so it’s best to get in front of the problem. Similar issues are also present for those paying off a mortgage.
Speaking of solutions, one local business, 8 Limbs Yoga, who has had to shut their studio doors has turned to online yoga instruction. The change in platform has had positive outcomes and will hopefully help sustain the popular yoga studio until we reach the other side of this pandemic.
At PNA’s website they have a new page that lets people know what’s happening with local businesses during the stay at home order. The page provides a valuable resource for the community to know where and how they can still get the goods and services they need while maintaining their support local businesses!
A Challenging Time for the PNA
The PNA itself is also facing hurdles during this time as many of their fundraising events and activities have been canceled for now. Closures and cancellations have resulted in a major loss of revenue – for the PNA. The biggest cancellation has been their 40th birthday fundraiser that was scheduled for April 25th.
The Phinney Neighborhood Association is still working hard to support the community and they plan to keep going. As they say “PNA Community, We Got this. Together.” The “Don’t Stop Believin” Relief Campaign explains how the PNA is continuing to care for the community and how the neighborhood community can support them back.
The Phinney Neighborhood Association is a tremendous resource for small, locally run businesses in Seattle pre covid, covid and most definitely post covid. They offer multiple programs, events, and opportunities that draw community residents and businesses together. With Chris at the helm of PNA’s business coordination members can feel confident that they have a dedicated point person who has their back and is working hard to help business owners survive through this time. And when doors open again Chris and the PNA will be there to help the community recover and, once again, thrive.