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GLENVILLE – Even at the best of times, keeping a business afloat, especially one that hasn’t been open for long, can be difficult.

So you can imagine the fear three booming businesses in Schenectady County felt when they had to abruptly close last year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Now fully reopened, owners of Storied Coffee, Girl Fight Fitness gym and Thistle shop Be Perfect Artisan say the micro-loans they each received last year from Glenville have been a lifesaver .

“It meant keeping the doors open, it was really a lifesaver because we had absolutely no income,” said Cassie Walker, owner of Thistle Be Perfect on Glenridge Road, which only sells handcrafted items.

Amanda Gonzalez-Barone’s Girl Fight Gym on Route 50 had only been open for a few months when COVID hit.

“We were finally finding our groove after all the expense of fitting out the new building, we’re finally starting to normalize a bit, and that’s when it all fell apart and we were forced to close,” she said.

She said the $4,000 loan helped cover rent and pay for equipment so she could pivot and offer outdoor classes.


“We got creative and we make these classes of tough, strong women with tires and hammers and things that we really can’t do indoors without causing major damage, that’s how we got pivoted and we adapted,” said Gonzalez-Barone.

Rich Sarnacki who is co-owner legendary cafe on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia with his wife, Christine Sarnacki, said the place had been open for a year before it was forced to close shop.

Sarnacki said when the company fell on hard times, they were forced to lay off three part-time employees and started using an app and taking orders over the phone. customers picked up at a table outside the front door of the establishment.

The cafe reopened in June 2020, reorganized to meet 6ft social distancing guidelines, and slowly began to rehire its employees.

“This (loan) continues to be very helpful, it’s like a cushion on which we haven’t had to worry about how we’re going to get out of it,” Rich Sarnacki said of the 15-year loan. $000 that the couple contracted.

He said the money helped cover rent and utility bills, which they continued to pay throughout the pandemic. “It also put us in position with other resources to look at an additional opportunity.”

Sarnacki said in January they had opened a second location on Upper Union Street in Schenectady, which he said “wouldn’t have been possible without the flexibility the loan gave us.”

Glenville supervisor Chris Koetzle said last year, amid the pandemic, the city provided $175,000 in interest-free loans for one year to 13 small businesses through the Local Development Corporation (LDC ) from the city.

He said the “vast majority” of companies took the maximum amount of $15,000, which is currently being reimbursed.

“They were sort of the emergency, ‘Here’s money for you to spend’ type, either to keep someone or to buy inventory,” Koetzle said, adding “it’s very targeted in this way”.

Koetzle said he knew businesses in neighboring Scotland were feeling the pinch, so he signed an executive waiver in 2020 to allow them to take part in the scheme. “The need was great there and we wanted to help,” the supervisor said.

Gonzalez-Barone, who has a second gym in Latham, said all gyms were completely closed until late August when the state allowed them to operate at reduced capacity. She also handled the rent moratorium, which was extended every few months.

“We had so much uncertainty, we didn’t know how we were going to pay these bills, and the bills just kept piling up, and it really depended on your landlord’s leniency for a business like mine, because that’s the ‘one of your biggest expenses is space with a gym,” she added. “A lot of the relief that we thought we were getting really wasn’t going to help, and when we had struggling to find relief, the city really stepped up and gave it to us,” she said.

Walker had only been in business for about 10 months when the pandemic shut it down.

She took to social media, auctioning off items from the shop.

“Where other stores might thrive on online shopping, we really couldn’t because you really have to see it to pick the one you like,” said Walker, who took out a $6,000 loan. “That filled the hole.”

Sarnacki and the other business owners praised Koetzle and his staff for their outreach efforts and working with merchants to ensure they got what they needed.

“I’ve always heard how great Glenville is for their businesses, but I’ve experienced it,” Walker said. “It’s truly amazing to be a business owner in Glenville, they really care about businesses big and small.”