Spokane Journal of Business

Restaurants & Retail: In their own words

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Taylor & Rachel Gano • Fluffy’s Candy • 9502 N. Newport Highway, suite 4B, Spokane

 In November of 2019, after two years of throwing the idea of opening a full-service candy store around, my wife and I finally made the jump and began looking into local retail spaces.

We settled on an empty space between Five Guys and Papa Murphy’s. It was a larger space than we needed, but we have larger dreams of hosting birthday parties and other events.

Fast forward to March 16: We were finally ready for our soft opening. It’s the same date that many small businesses were laying off their staff due to the coronavirus pandemic. We reluctantly opened our doors without advertising and quietly have been selling candy since.

Business has been slow, but steady with repeat customers. We adapted to the current situation and have since launched our web store in order to offer curbside pickup and shipping. We’re also offering a new “Easter Bunny” delivery service, since no one is allowed to have group Easter egg hunts this year, or have pictures taken with the Easter bunny. We want to try to keep the magic alive in a small way.

Also, we’re continuing to order new products from our fellow small business suppliers who are very grateful for the support. Orders are slowing for everyone nationwide, but we have to keep on fighting to keep business going.

If we all stop, there won’t be any small businesses left to support.

 

Brian Winkler • W.M. Winkler Co. • 5516 N. Starr Road, Newman Lake

During the Great Recession of 2008, I’m proud to say the company didn’t lay anybody off.

And that remains our mindset during this global pandemic. We ask for loyalty from employees; it’s only fair that we be loyal to them.

When we’re at full staff during the peak of construction season, our employee roll stands at about 150 people. Right now, we have about 50 people who are winter layoffs due to the seasonal reduction in work. As time goes on, though, we want to slowly start bringing them back on board.

We’ve got some essential projects that are in place and are looking to secure more construction projects in those areas that are deemed as being essential. Our company is looking at transportation projects and those that are in the category of disaster relief.

My grandfather started this concrete construction business in 1919, and last year, we celebrated our 100th-year anniversary of operations. None of us would’ve ever imagined that we were going to kick off the start of our next century of business under these conditions.

My heart goes out to those who are suffering from this virus and have lost loved ones to it. We have fathers, sons, and grandsons from other families working for us. There are families with mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and a host of husbands and wives who have worked -- and currently are -- working here.

We’re family here, and we do all we can to take care of our own.

 

Leo Zheng  • Kokoro Ramen •509 N. Sullivan, Spokane Valley

Ramen is to Japan what pizza is to America; a regional iconic food that you can get on the run, take home, and heat up.

Our goal was to share that with our community on April 1. 

We were still awaiting inspections and the awarding of our business license before all activity came to an end.

We will not reach our previous expected levels financially. But we are hoping as soon as everything calms down, we can open our business.

COVID-19 is changing how we are all living our daily lives. 

As the number of viral cases rises, there’s nobody in the business industry that will be unaffected by this pandemic.

We hope that everything will get back to normal soon and wish everyone and their family safety and well-being.

Kevin Blocker
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