Business Briefs: June 2021

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Crozet ABC Store Manager Mike Perry. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Paycheck Protection Loans Sustain Workers, Businesses

More Crozet-area musicians, handymen, artists, craftsmen, computer technicians and taxi drivers were able to apply for loans to replace their lost earnings because of slight changes in the Paycheck Protection Program for 2021. Sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed workers here applied for loans to reimburse themselves in modest amounts ranging from less than $700 to $20,000. 

Businesses with multiple employees also benefited from the second round. The Paycheck Protection Program, designed as a direct incentive to keep workers on the payroll despite inactivity forced by the pandemic, enabled dozens of western Albemarle businesses to continue to pay employees. Under the terms of the program, borrowers may be eligible for forgiveness if they fulfill the terms of the loan.

Bigger businesses asked for amounts large enough to retain dozens of employees. OTPR Management, an LLC providing a therapeutic riding program, was awarded $1,158,665, by far western Albemarle’s largest loan, to support 194 employees. 

Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton was the area’s next largest borrower, awarded $815,745 to support 109 employees. Miller School was awarded $733,337 for 66 workers, and Willis LLC received $613,435 to retain 60 workers.

Waynesboro’s biggest loan was $$604,252 to Bank Design and Equipment, listing 36 employees.  

In North Garden, Pippin Hill received $660,345 and Historic Charleston received $521,043, each for 35 workers. At the same North Garden address as Historic Charleston, Easton Porter received $254,000 (13 employees) and Easton Events received $99,000 (4 employees.)

Downtown anchors Crozet Pizza, Fardowners, and Smoked received $199,898, $322,668 and $245,669 respectively. Crozet Pizza reported 18 employees; Smoked, 22; and Fardowners, 19. 

Others with loans greater than $100,000: Clear Path Communications, awarded $250,000 (17 employees); Omniscan of Afton, awarded $212,687 for 35 employees; The Ivy Inn, awarded $207,299 for 23 employees; Camp Carysbrook in Afton, awarded $138,634 for 20 employees; Greencroft, a private club, awarded $138,218;  Lucinda’s (Face Value salon, now in Charlottesville), awarded $162,000 for 12 employees; Concrete Wall Solutions, awarded $139,662.50 for 12 employees; Field School, awarded $135, 295 for 19 employees; Pro Re Nata, awarded $128,061 for 14 employees; Potters Craft Cider (in Afton) awarded $126,170 for 19 employees; Heartwood Design in Afton, awarded $126,748 for 22 employees; Uhler Works in Afton, awarded $112,825 for 9 employees; North Branch School, awarded $115,945 for 18 employees; Galt Building Systems in Afton, awarded $111,150 for 11 employees.

Companies and nonprofit organizations that receive these loans may have the loans forgiven if they retain employees during the period covered by the loan and stipulate that the loans aren’t necessary for continuing operation. 

Dozens of other businesses received smaller amounts. It won’t be possible until the end of the reporting period to determine which businesses were successful in fulfilling the conditions of their loans.

The Gazette’s source for this information is the Pro Publica database, which reflects loan applications approved by banks and submitted to the SBA. It may not account for money not distributed to, or credit not used by, a given company. To look up all businesses and loans of any amount by zip code or name, go to www.propublica.org/search?qss=Paycheck+protection

ABC Store Reopens with Expanded Inventory and Hours

Thirsty Crozetians were delighted to discover an open and expanded ABC store at the Shoppes of Clover Lawn May 20. Store Manager Mike Perry said the opening was delayed for a week because of the regional gas shortage.

“We have people from all over the state helping us clean and restock,” he said. He noted that there was no gas in Crozet the week before the originally scheduled opening: “I didn’t want them to get here and not be able to get home.”

Perry was glad to be back at his store and grateful that no staff members lost jobs during the long renovation period necessary for the store to incorporate the adjacent vacant space. Crozet staff found temporary work at other ABC stores nearby.

The ABC store expansion allows for greater selection and more inventory. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Perry said people had been growing impatient in recent weeks. He’s a Crozet resident and found that people constantly collared him in the grocery store or on the street for updates. The extra space will allow the Clover Lawn store to have more of an inventory, he said. 

What’s the liquor of choice for Crozet? “It’s bourbon, without a doubt,” said Chanel Payne, who is the Virginia ABC board’s regional manager and was at the store opening boxes and stocking shelves to prepare for the reopening. “But tequila is having quite a surge in Virginia.”

Like other stores in the state, the Crozet store will go back to its pre-Covid hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday hours are 12 to 6 p.m.

Crozet Works Reorganizes and Reopens

The co-work space in Old Trail Heights is open again, with a limited number of desks and offices available. Jen Oppenheimer, the chief of staff for WebRTC.ventures, said the project was doing well after its opening in 2019, but its success was short lived. After the onset of the pandemic the owner, Arin Sime, closed the space. 

The main room at Crozet Works will be emptied except for four desks, but the view remains the same. Submitted photo.

Now, the space will be reopened with a different configuration. “Even though we’re vaccinated, it doesn’t seem quite right to have very many people in the same room all day,” Oppenheimer said.

To accommodate the new reality, the large open space will be cleared of all but four desks, she said. There are a couple of enclosed offices for those who spend all day on Zoom calls, and private telephone partitions for those with the occasional need for a video call. Rent for the space on Ashlar Avenue in Old Trail also includes use of a small kitchen, internet access, and limited printing and copying. To inquire, e-mail Oppenheimer, [email protected]

Jewelry and Paintings Dazzle at Artisans Depot

A roofer who also dabbles in jewelry making and an artist who captures the vibrant colors of spring in her works on canvas and wood will be featured as guest artists during the month of June at the Crozet Artisans Depot.

Jewelry by Robert Turner of Madison and paintings by Trisha Thompson of Buena Vista will fill the Depot until June 30.

Turner’s show, “Results of a Challenge,” displays his works with Argentium silver and setting stones. “For the last 20 plus years I have been working on rooftops all around Central Virginia replacing and installing standing seam metal roofing,” Turner said. “While doing so, I get to see the world from a very different perspective than most people.” Turner enjoys solving problems with sheet metal, but found it wasn’t anything he could do in a studio. After taking an enameling class, Turner found he could fashion roofing copper into wearable art. 

Jewelry by Robert Turner at Crozet Artisans Depot through June. Submitted photo.

“This has led me further down the path of working with Argentium silver, setting stones, and turning my daily views and impressions from high above into everyday wearable items,” he said. 

Thompson calls her show “Blossoming Brushstrokes,” and she uses vibrant colors, multiple layers, and a great deal of texture in all of her acrylic on paper or wood piece.

Trisha Thompson captures blossoms on paper and wood, now at Crozet Artisans Depot. Submitted photo.

“I love that moment when I see something beautiful in nature,” she said. “My breath catches and I feel almost giddy.” Thompson said she tries to capture that feeling in her artwork.  “I use my imagination to turn that moment in nature into a joy-filled painting. My goal is for people to smile and feel that joy when they view my paintings.”

Thompson will be present at the Depot Saturday, June 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Wildrock Offers Recovery Through Play

To children and families already isolated from nature by geography or poverty, the pandemic has been a double whammy, increasing screen time and drastically reducing playful interaction with the natural world. 

Wildrock, Crozet’s nature- centered play program, has introduced “Playing our Way to Recovery,” a series of interventions that organizers hope will help with the health disparities, mental, emotional and physical, shown by those who would welcome any experience with the healing power of both nature and play.

Wildrock invites the community to participate, with a full list of programs and events on Wildrock’s website at wildrock.org/covid-response. 

Project Grows Farm Program Cultivates Knowledge, Nutrition

There’s a lot going on at Project Grows, a 10-acre farm in Augusta County. The non-profit educates the community about nutrition, helps low-income families and elders buy more fresh produce, and manages several markets, including pop-ups that deliver seasonal fruit and vegetables to the doorsteps of those who need them. Farmers benefit, too, with more chances to connect directly with their customers.

Volunteer Colin Marshall mans the donation table for Project Grows. Submitted photo.

The Waynesboro Farmers Market is one of the markets benefitting from the Project Grows management model that dispenses a healthy dose of nutritional know-how and encouragement along with the snap peas and bok choy. The Saturday market sets up in Constitution Park at the east end of downtown from 9 a.m. to noon every week under the management of Project Grows Market Manager Chelsea deRochemont. Shoppers enrolled in the SNAP program in any jurisdiction are invited to have their benefits doubled for fresh produce, and other shoppers are invited to buy extra produce and donate what they don’t need, said Megan Marshall, director of food access. Project Grows also manages the North Augusta Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Learn more about Project Grows, the farm, the pop-ups and opportunities for young people at projectgrows.org.

Biz Bits

There’s well-spaced inside seating now as well as continuing pick-up at Grit in Old Trail from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The regional Grit chain has also bought “Snowing in Space,” and offers the nitrogen-infused cold brew there.

Schuyler Greens local delivery has expanded its offering, including soups and desserts from L’Etoile. Blue Ridge Dental has moved to an office in the Village Center of Old Trail. Greenwood Gourmet Grocery is now open for indoor browsing after 3 p.m. Coconut Thai Kitchen in Old Trail’s Village Center is slowly moving through the renovation and inspection process and looking forward to a June opening. Fardowners is opening up inside, with limited capacity because of space restrictions. The parking-lot tent will remain up for now. Find out the details, www.fardowners.com.

The former Captain Sam’s and most recently Step ‘n Out in Waynesboro was sold at auction to Be Tran and Ponsy Phonelath for $330,000. The couple owns several restaurants in Harrisonburg, including Popeyes and Taste of Thai. Also in Waynesboro, funding for the design of the campus of the Virginia Museum of Natural History has been included in the state budget. Once designed, a process that is expected to take 18 months, the museum will be built at the corner of West Main Street and Arch Avenue in the city’s downtown. Just west of the city center, Amazon has begun renovation of the former Kmart for a delivery station, expected to be in operation by fall. Lightwell’s Survey, a winery at Waynesboro’s South River Complex, will be open for a rare public tasting June 12 and 13. The winery is known for its innovative blends of grapes from all over the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, its artistic labels and creative names, like “Knight Moves” and “Strange Hybrid Moments.” The wine is also sold from its website, www.lightwellsurvey.com.

Lightwell Survey plans a tasting for June 12 and 13. Submitted photo.

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