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“Don’t forget us”

Stories of a small business lockdown.

It’s no secret that a pandemic is hard on all of us. It’s especially hard if you’re a small business, and even harder if you’re brand new! We chatted to three CBD businesses to hear how they’re coping with the current lockdown, in their own words.

SoCo Kitchen - "Closing was NOT an option"

Sean + Amy at SoCo Kitchen

Partners Amy and Sean single-handedly run Soco Kitchen, a two-year-old bar/restaurant on lower Crown St serving up cosy rock’n’roll vibes and comfort food inspired by the southern states of the USA. They’re not scared of hard work and are determined to get through the current lockdown. “We’ve done it once before and have adapted to the lockdown once again, as closing was NOT an option for us at all. We’re just so humbled by all the support from our community and neighbours (seriously) and are committed to staying open and serving y’all as our way to show appreciation.”

An unexpected challenge for managing lockdown trade is that each day is totally unpredictable. The duo shared that “there are no bookings/events happening around to help us understand if service will be busy or not, so predicting supply and demand can get trickier than usual. We don’t want to disappoint anyone by something being unavailable, but also don’t want to over-order and be wasteful.”

How else are they adapting? To keep the food and drink flowing, SoCo have assessed logistics, adapted recipes and sourced more environmentally conscious packaging. And they haven't forgotten the vibes! “We know that the atmosphere was a big time vibe at SoCo, so we also offer our Spotify playlist for free for everyone to enjoy at home!”

One way to support SoCo Kitchen right now: “Tell your friends, your momma, your neighbours and your best-friend’s mum’s step-son’s cat and everyone about us!”

Miss Aesthetics - "Overheads don't stop"

Maddy at Miss Aesthetics

Experienced cosmetic nurse Maddy opened the Miss Aesthetics clinic just two months ago, on Crown Street Mall. While the clinic got off to a racing start, lockdown has hit hard with clinics among the first businesses to be closed. Maddy shares that “New business, especially small businesses, will go into debt in lockdown. The overheads and insurances don’t stop!” As a service-based business, the business is "mostly unable to pivot.” But that hasn’t stopped the clinician from working hard to find an income stream. “I have created home medi-facials kits for clients to maintain skin health during this time, prepping them for more advanced treatments after lockdown ceases. This will help keep the business somewhat functional, for a very limited time frame.”

One way to support Miss Aesthetics right now: "Engage with our social media channels. Sharing content, liking and commenting on posts all helps to build a local community and increase our brand awareness."

Dropbear Comics - "We aren't like the major retailers"

Jay at Dropbear Comics

In March 2021, Jay Johnson made the leap from tradeshow stalls and pop-ups, to a permanent retail outlet – Dropbear Comics on western Crown St. What started out as a childhood hobby has evolved into creating a community hub for comic art lovers. Jay’s message is clear that small business needs support, sharing “Don't forget us. We aren't like the major retailers. We are part of the community. We have families that depend on your support or else we won't be around.”
How is Dropbear surviving? Given the thousands of items Dropbear carries instore from as low as $2, it’s not as easy as just switching to an online store. “It’s not practical to have all my stock online but I have started putting my store merch up on our site. I've had to really hustle online with live Facebook sales, Ebay auctions and new Tiktok.”

One way to support Dropbear Comics right now: "Any support helps. Check out our socials, and if there’s something you’re searching for let me know and I will see what I can find. We can still offer click and collect, or we can deliver."