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SUNY Canton SBDC Helps Prepare Business Owners with Reopening Plans

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With area stores reopening, the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is looking to help its clients think beyond business as usual.

New York state has asked every business to have a safety plan that encourages social and physical distancing in addition to new cleaning and disinfection strategies, according to SBDC Business Advisor Michelle A. Collins.

Lynzie Schulte stands in front of her cafe Foster the Plant, wearing a mask.

“We realize this may sound intimidating, but we can help out with safety initiatives,” Collins said. “A successful plan will help make your employees and customers more comfortable.”

Phase One of the New York Forward reopening plan includes construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and wholesale trade. Select retail operations have opened for curbside or no-contact pickups. Hailey Hodge, owner of Luna Boutique in Canton, has created a new way to interact with her clientele through “Lookbox” subscriptions. Hodge specializes in carefully curating collections of clothing for shoppers. She’s seen a spike in the service since the beginning of stay-at-home directives.

Hailey Hodge sits in front of her shop, Luna, wearing a pink kangol and mask.

She’s created a curated subscription service with zero-contact transactions.“We get requests for items or pieces picked specifically for that person's needs, style and size,” she said. “A customer picks up a bin containing selections from the back porch at an agreed upon time with zero contact, then tries on the clothes for 1-2 days. They can bring the box back with the items they don't want inside.”

Using this delivery method has enabled Luna to continue offering a personalized experience for each customer. Most patrons opt to keep the entire selection of items that Hodge picks out for them.

The SBDC has partnered with the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce (SLCCC) and the St. Lawrence County Industiral Development Authority to outline business safety precaution plans during a series of free webinars. They’ve also suggested ways to promote retail reopening.

“Businesses should keep their website, social media and online listings updated with hours and procedures,” said Brooke Rouse, SLCCC executive director.

Potsdam’s Foster the Plant has stayed open through the entire PAUSE directive, according to owner Lynzie S. Schulte. The vegan café offers online and phone ordering and pickup options. In addition to their single-serve meals and smoothie bowls, they’ve expanded their selection by developing family meals that serve four to six people.

“We normally didn’t make family meals, but we were able to adapt to the situation and provide fresh plant-based food for the community,” Schulte said. “They’ve been very popular.”

Foster the Plant routinely sells out of the new option, and Schulte advised customers to order early.

Sara Sharlow sitting while on her smart phone.

Sara J. Sharlow, owner of LifeStyles Salon in Potsdam, has been engaging with her clients on social media even when her services aren’t available. As an already active Facebook user, she turned to the platform to connect with clients that she hadn’t seen and used her online presence to sell products.

“I did a video of how to cut your bangs, make-up tutorials and offered a few hairstyling tricks,” she said. “Mostly I’ve been trying to stay in touch with everyone and see how everyone is doing.”

When the salon reopens, there will be new rules on how the stylist operates and schedules appointments. She said these rules won’t stand in the way of her business. “I’m looking forward to continuing one-on-one personalized service,” Sharlow said.

For reopening guidance, or more information about the services offered through the SBDC, please email sbdc@canton.edu.

About the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The SBDC offers free direct counseling and a wide range of management and technical assistance services. Small business advisors help start-up companies develop business plans, assist existing businesses prepare to expand or offer industry specific resources. Business planning services are provided free of charge. It is one of 1,000 Small Business Development Centers to provide no-cost business consulting and training to more than a million existing and startup small businesses each year, creating and retaining 156,000 jobs.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 21 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity eSports and cheerleading.

Tags: SBDC Michelle Collins Haley Hodge Brooke Rouse Lynzie Schulte

With area stores reopening, the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is looking to help its clients think beyond business as usual. New York state has asked every business to have a safety plan that encourages social and physical distancing in addition to new cleaning and disinfection strategies, according to SBDC Business Advisor Michelle A. Collins.