Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series on how Xenia’s small businesses have weathered and persevered through 2020. If you own a Xenia business and would like to be featured in this series, contact Darryl McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org
XENIA — In November 2017, Becky Hawkes’ vision came to fruition. In downtown Xenia, Hawkes opened up FLOUR Bake Shop. FLOUR specializes in made-from-scratch baked cakes, cookies, scones, and cupcakes. Every now and again, a special treat is created.
Hawkes’ business had been so successful that it was set to expand in March. The FLOUR Box Gift Shop was going to be opened next to the bakery, which is located at 13 E. Main Street.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns came. Closures had a negative effect on small businesses but so far Hawkes has been able to persevere.
“The bakery is doing well considering COVID,” she said. “We are no where close to where we should be, but we are doing OK. We were lucky.”
Not all small businesses were so lucky, however. And those that survived don’t want to deal with temporary closures again. The results could be disastrous.
“If things shut down again, we may not survive,” Hawkes said. “When all of this COVID stuff started, we actually just signed a lease in March to expand and open a gift shop. Things got delayed and we were not able to open the gift shop until June. However, we made it.”
The doors at FLOUR were locked during the first wave of shutdowns. But being deemed essential, business never stopped. FLOUR’s staff was still hard at work.
“We were very cautious and had our doors locked,” Hawkes said. “In the beginning, only call-in orders and curbside pickup services were being offered. We took pictures of our entire bakery case and posted them on social media. Customers then called the shop and placed orders. We ran the orders out our back door to the customers’ vehicles.”
It was an experience like no other.
“It was exhausting, very emotional, and also unforgettable,” Hawkes said. “We realized how our customers are more than customers. They are friends and family.”
Government assistance has helped Hawkes keep things cooking. But it wasn’t an easy process. An application process was put in place and businesses had to qualify for the money.
“Just this past November, we qualified for the Greene County CARES money,” Hawkes said. “Up until this past August, I was working for a law firm and had supplemental income if we needed it for the business. “Since August, we have been watching things very closely. Products, sales, waste, etc., all were things we watched because that income of mine has ended. However, I am super proud to operate two businesses full-time and focus 200 percent on those businesses.”
Hawkes was able to find a silver lining.
“The biggest positive was that we survived from March until June because of our loyal customers who decided to support us and also only shop small businesses, especially family-owned businesses,” Hawkes said.
Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534