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Local Voices: Indianapolis Small Businesses

Most small businesses have taken a big hit in the past few months.

But we’ve also seen many of our favorite local Indy businesses step up and face the challenges of the pandemic head on. We reached out to hear from them directly, to see how they’ve adjusted and what they’re looking forward to.

 

Once Upon a Child | Ryan Burtner

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “We had to close our doors on March 16 and decided to do some curbside selling in order to continue serving our community with affordable clothing. We also partnered with a local organization, the Grassroot Projects, to provide clothes and shoes for 14 kids in the Indianapolis area. We look forward to reopening our doors and providing a safe and affordable shopping experience for our customers.”

Once Upon a Child’s Ryan Burtner, donating to the Grassroot Projects

Kits & Kaboodle | Teneen Dobbs

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “At Kits & Kaboodle, we’ve been staying positive during these uncertain times with two modes of thought every day: Appreciating each and every customer that supported us while our business was closed and looking to our future re-branding of Kits & Kaboodle.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “We are very excited about moving to City Center this summer. We have designed the new store to have a British feel with a nod to European-designed toy companies. There will be a play area called ‘Poppins Play Area’ and a book space called ‘Bert’s Book Nook.’ The store will have our customers’ favorite toy selections and will feature story time with owners of local businesses. Tea time will be served on occasion and most events will be centered around English culture. The aisles will be easy to shop for parents with strollers. We have a newly designed logo, website, and our point of sale is new too. Don’t worry…all of our reward customers’ points have transferred. We’ve had extra time to work on all of these new functions during this strange time!”

kits and kaboodles 3
kits and kaboodles 2
kits and kaboodles 1

Gymboree | Mike Shultz

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “We have been serving children and their parents for 25 years. We have been through a lot over the years and through good times and bad, we have always found special ways to keep in touch with our families. During this trial, we have been posting simple 10-minute segments for the children. Some songs, a story and activities. Yesterday we had a drive through “Smile and Wave.” Gymbo the clown was on the curb as clients drove up and they got some warm socially distanced greetings, songs and even a goodie bag. We even had a “Gymbo Drive By” contest. Many lucky friends experienced Gymbo showing up on the street by their home in his 1966 convertible T-bird. Songs, smiles, laughs and a goodie bag (sorry: no-hugs).”

What does community mean to you? “When you think about it, we have been lucky to have touched the lives of tens of thousands of families over the years. We have reached out to members and non-members alike with special events and activities. Whether it is our National Day of Play, our Fireman & Ice cream night or our Diaper Drives. Our community is always there.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “I think a client said it best yesterday. ‘One thing this has taught us is to understand what is important in life and to let go of what is not.'”

Gymboree’s Gymbo making socially-distant home visits

Meridian Music | Hillary Blake

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? Meridian Music School Teachers are continuing to teach students by offering online music lessons. Teachers who have been unable to offer online lessons have been communicating regularly with students to give assignments and offer encouragement. Some teachers have even created virtual performance opportunities.”

What does community mean to you?To me community means using your personal gifts and strengths to help others. I have seen the power of community more than ever in the past two months. In our own studio I’ve seen teachers go out of their way to help others who are not as comfortable with technology so that students can continue to receive quality music instruction.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “I’m looking forward to participating in and enjoying live musical performances. I’m also looking forward to hearing daily music coming from each studio as I work!”

Meridian Music School

The Indianapolis Art Center | Shannon Bennett

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “Outside of hosting artistic resources on our website and showcasing creativity across social media platforms, we are excited to be transitioning into offering interactive online camps and classes. This will allow us to deliver high-quality art education right to your homes while continuing to connect with our community, and beyond.”

What does community mean to you? “At the Art Center, community means a limitless source of inspiration. Whether it’s found in our students, a group of teaching artists and exhibitors, or our everyday patrons and staff; we consider community to be the catalyst that continually drives us to inspire creative expression in people of all ages.

What are you looking forward to in the future? “Like many others, we look forward to returning to a new normal, whatever that may be. We look forward to our doors being open, our students creating in our studios, our galleries inspiring visitors, and our outreach programs spreading the support and power of art throughout our ever-growing community.”

At-home finger puppet craft, Indianapolis Art Center

Northside Mental Health | Kate Fisch, LCSW

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “During the stay-at-home order, our practice stays connected to our clients via virtual therapy sessions. Our therapists remain committed to our current clients and have accepted new clients who are seeking support related to the uncertainty of the times.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “At Northside Mental Health, we look forward to helping our clients navigate their lives as we all discover what the “new normal” looks like. Our commitment to our clients has grown even deeper roots through this crisis and we welcome the opportunity to provide ongoing support.”

Northside Mental Health

DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics | Taryn DeVeau Lautzenheiser

What does community mean to you? “At DeVeau’s, community means family. Our families safety and wellbeing are always are first priority, and that philosophy is unwavering. We have transported our facility into an online community through Private Facebook Groups, live Zoom classes, and DeVeau’s Academy—a new online platform providing gymnastics classes, strength, and skill training for students to enjoy from the safety of their home. We are more connected to our DeVeau’s families than ever before and are committed to maintaining structure and normalcy for our students, which is something children need more than ever before. We cannot wait to see all of our DeVeau’s families back in the gym!”

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time?  “DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics quickly adjusted our curriculum in order to provide structure and normalcy for our community. Community is about connection and support, and we value both. We have connected through live Zoom classes, private Facebook groups, and the newly launched DeVeau’s Academy which offers virtual learning year round!”

DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics at home

Puccini’s Pizza & Pasta | Don Main

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “Puccini’s Pizza & Pasta has been part of the Indy community for three decades. We’ve always considered it important to serve the community in a holistic sense. So, we give away a lot of pizzas and gift certificates, and we do our best to make customers understand how important they are to us. And we treat our employees with respect, because we need people to feel good when they’re working. Obviously, this crisis has put pressure on us. We had different options in terms of how to handle it. And we decided to keep our locations open, because people need to eat and our employees wanted to keep working. So, we enhanced our safety procedures for carryout, added curbside pickup and expanded our delivery options. We kept feeding people, and that’s what makes us feel good!”

Puccini’s Pizza & Pasta

NinjaZone | Megan Noel

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time?As a gymnastics and ninja facility, we had to pivot quickly and get all of our programming online. Our coaches and parents were amazingly flexible during this transition to virtual classes. We were also able to collaborate with some community members to create on-demand video content on AmazingKids360.com.”

What does community mean to you? “We are blown away by how incredibly supportive and resilient, our Wright’s Gymnastics and NinjaZone families have been. Our students and their parents have proven they can do hard things and have fun at the same time. We are immensely grateful for our wonderful local community. You rock, Indy!”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “Most of all, we can’t wait to see our students’ smiling faces in the gym as soon as it’s safely possible. We miss them all but are so proud of how much they’ve grown – both athletically and personally – during this time!”

NinjaZone

Goldfish Swim School | Andrew Joseph

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “We have been more active on social media. Some ways that we have reached out are activities do do at home during quarantine, we have had some special guests hosting activities like Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer Ryan Murphy.”

What does community mean to you? “Community to me is everyone we interact with on a personal basis. What makes a community to me are all the essential workers out there that not only make our way of lives possible but do it with a smile on their faces.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “We are SUPER excited to get kids back in the pool learning to swim and making them safe in water… On a personal level my family is excited for the pools to open up for the summer as well.”

Goldfish Swim School

The Lavengood Team at Plat Collective | Kelly Lavengood

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “Since becoming an agent in 2007, I have proudly donated a portion of my paycheck from each closing to my clients’ local charity of choice. With the COVID-19 crisis impacting our community at every level, I’ve decided to direct all giving at this time to organizations that are providing direct and immediate support to keep our most vulnerable community members safe, fed, and housed. I provide my clients with a list of organizations to choose from. A great deal of consideration went into making the list and I look forward to continuing to support the Indianapolis community.”

Kelly Lavengood & family

Huntington Learning Center | Lisa Fraser

How is your business staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “To stay connected to the community we are doing remote one-on-one tutoring via Zoom for students at all grade levels. We try to stay connected to our friends at schools around Indianapolis with social media, emails and phone communication. We are serving the community by volunteering our time where we can. Recently, we helped Indianapolis Public Schools pack and ship Chromebooks to students for their use in remote tutoring. Also, we volunteer to help hand out meals to families in need. Those meals are provided by Gleaners Food Bank and distributed by Indianapolis Public Schools. Area schools serve as distribution points multiple days a week and school buses are used to ship the meals to those distribution points.”

What does community mean to you? “Community to us means participating and sponsoring events at schools and within the community. We also look for opportunities to provide parents with information and help on how to best work with and guide their children through their academic journey. To accomplish that, we post frequent tips on social media and we offer free webinars and presentations online that can help parents to navigate both the normal education world and the altered version of it that we are living in during the COVID crisis.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “Our concern is that children have missed a lot of education during the school closures and we hope to be able to help them during the summer with our Reading Adventure program. This free program is open to all children and encourages them to read through the summer. In the future, we also hope to take the best lessons we learned from remote tutoring and combine it with our in-person tutoring to help students avoid starting the school year academically behind once the school year starts in the fall. We are concerned about how much ground students have lost during the COVID crisis. Many educators are calling it the ‘COVID slide.’ A few hours a week spent reading or studying during the summer can help to blunt that loss!”

virtual tutoring
Huntington Learning Center

Indianapolis Colts | Steve Campbell

How is your organization staying connected to and/or serving the community during this time? “The mission of the Indianapolis Colts is to entertain, inspire and unite, and we are drawn to it even more during challenging times like these. The Irsay family and the Colts have backed COVID relief efforts in Indiana through donations, public awareness and moral support, including sizable donations to Gleaners Food Bank, 12 Indianapolis front-line community centers, Indianapolis Public Schools and others. We also have used Colts digital and social media channels to raise awareness about community relief efforts, while also continuing to bring entertaining and informative content to children, families and fans during this time of social distancing.”

What are you looking forward to in the future? “We all look forward to the day when we beat this virus, and people and communities across Indiana can get back to normal life and activities. We also can’t wait to welcome fans back into Lucas Oil Stadium for many safe, fun and entertaining afternoons of Colts football!”

Go Colts!

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