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For the last year, COVID-19 has played an extreme role in the daily functioning of small businesses all throughout the Bay Area.

Businesses have had to adapt to the ever-changing environment and government mandates and requirements of staying open. Whether it be a restaurant, clothing store, grocery store or any other business, the rules have changed, and the playing field has become completely different.

Unfortunately, many small businesses have gone under due to being required to shut down since they were not “essential”, couldn’t find ways to operate in a socially distanced way or were adversely affected by lack of clientele and customers.

Lack of government funds to help support these businesses has been a leading cause for going out of business. But a new $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Senate on March 6th will provide Bay Area businesses with some small relief.

Small Bay Area Businesses are different in how they operate and how COVID has played such a major role in their daily functioning.

Photo by Renae Machuca- A close up look at Lean Fest. They were fortunate that their business model was adjustable to COVID-19.

A rare success story comes with a small market in Dublin, California called LeanFeast. The reason for their success was “We were COVID before there was COVID,” said Jason Silveria, one of the shop owners.

The reason they had been so successful during this time period is that the type of market they run simply functions in a way that COVID couldn’t affect. Specializing in healthy premade diet meals, a customer would simply come in, create their meals with the staff behind the counter and take it to go. 

Photo by Renae Machuca- Lean Fest in Dublin, California.

This success definitely comes from the recent popularity of healthy meals and the fact that the restaurant already has a specifically structured outline that COVID requirements did not directly affect.

Not all businesses are this lucky, however. Diggity Dog, a dog daycare located in Tracy, California, was one of the unfortunate places that lost business because of COVID. 

Photo by Renae Machuca- Diggity Dog Day Care was a playhouse and daycare for dogs located in Tracy, California. They were forced to shut down in January due to low business during the pandemic.

“COVID has affected a lot of businesses this past year and sadly we are one of them. With that being said we will be shutting down as of January 31st and it breaks our hearts. We want to take the time to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the last couple of years. We love you all and wish things could’ve been different. We will miss all of your fur babies,” said Haley, owner of the kennel.

Generally, their customers would drop off their dogs for the day if they went to work or went on vacation. During COVID, many people were working from home and there was practically no vacation travel. This simple lack of clientele brought down another charming local small business. 

Some Bay Area businesses have been learning to function differently during this time, managing to keep their doors open.

A small bookstore in Tracy California, Mockingbird Books, has changed the way they allow customers to buy books. They have changed their store opening hours to only Saturdays, and offer online services and curbside pickup.

Photo by Renae Machuca- Mockingbird Books in Tracy, California was able to survive by changing their business model. They only allow customers who are going to buy merchandise to come into the store.

“Intentional shoppers only please. Please do not enter for browsing/killing time,” said a note from the shop owner hanging outside their door. 

Another interesting functional business is the Fort Mason Drive-In, located in San Francisco. With the lack of movie theaters being open, people have had to scramble for fun dates and family ideas in the Bay Area.

A drive-in is the perfect socially distanced location and fun event for anyone, and having one located on a pier in San Francisco has added an extra flair. This nonprofit organization has managed to be successful during this time because of the way it was built for life outside COVID.

Every business is different, and seeing how many have changed their ways to operate uniquely and cleverly under COVID gives hope for the future. 

Renae Machuca is a staff writer for The Express. Follow her @renaeextra.

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