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Cannabis, whiskey, and mobile bike repair: These entrepreneurs are thriving in the pandemic

Running a small enterprise might be daunting in the better of instances. Throw in a pandemic and it may be devastating. But some older entrepreneurs are thriving throughout COVID-19 due to rising demand for his or her specific merchandise and providers. Here are three of their tales:

Joe Sandschulte, 66, spends his days driving his Bicycle Fixer van by means of the streets of suburban Seattle. He can’t sustain with the demand for his mobile bike repair service. Sales this spring have been up about 50% over final 12 months as a result of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have led extra individuals to bike somewhat than drive.

Bike retailers have seen an uptick in gross sales nationwide with the growth in socially distanced recreation and transportation. But mobile bike restore providers like Sandschulte’s are particularly sizzling, given persevering with fears about going again into brick-and-mortar shops.

“I still see three or four clients a day. But instead of repairing one bike, I will repair a whole family’s worth of bikes — three or four. People love the convenience,” Sandschulte says.

He left his place as a bike store service supervisor seven years in the past to open the mobile enterprise. At the time, his spouse nervous about her husband giving up advantages and a gradual paycheck.

Things have been robust at first. “The first year, it wasn’t exactly raining money,” Sandschulte remembers.

But he constructed up his enterprise with a gradual clientele of dwelling and company purchasers who don’t miss lugging their bikes to the restore store.

These days, Sandschulte loves engaged on his personal and is dedicated to giving high quality service to each bike proprietor, whether or not it’s an previous hand-me-down or a $10,000 custom-built racing bike.

He plans to journey the enterprise into his 70s. “I’m doing my own thing. I just love the freedom,” Sandschulte says. 80% of older Americans cannot afford to retire – COVID-19 is not serving to

Rebecca Myers: Medical marijuana grower and processor

In September 2019, Rebecca Myers — who describes herself as over 50 — opened FarmaceuticalRX, a medical marijuana grower and processing facility, inside a former metal mill in western Pennsylvania. Six months later, the pandemic hit, and Myers nervous she’d need to shut it down.

But that didn’t occur.

The purpose: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf deemed medical marijuana a necessary enterprise.

“Who would have thought the day would come that the government deemed a medical marijuana business essential?” says Myers. “But we all know it’s true. Patients need us more than ever during this incredibly anxious and emotional time.”

Myers has additionally weathered the pandemic storm by being proactive.

After studying early experiences of the devastation of COVID-19 in China, she carried out social distancing, masks and gloves inside the plant. If staff have COVID-related signs and publicity, they receives a commission sick depart.

You may like: 10 suggestions for beginning your individual enterprise once you’re over 50

FarmaceuticalRX presently sells its merchandise in dispensaries all through Pennsylvania and operates a dispensary in Ohio. Myers plans to start out cultivating and processing in Ohio, too.

This profession path was by no means one she envisioned.

“If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be running a business that grew marijuana, I would have laughed,” says Myers. Previously, as a former district legal professional in the Bronx, she prosecuted drug and different crimes. She has additionally labored in the opiate remedy business.

And the former Division 1 basketball participant — Myers was place to begin guard at Fordham University — had by no means partied like different faculty college students. But then a household medical disaster made her understand the pressing want for medical marijuana.

A cousin was identified with osteosarcoma (a sort of bone most cancers) and had his leg amputated; medical marijuana was the solely factor getting him by means of the punishing chemotherapy remedies. But it was nonetheless unlawful in Ohio.

Myers bumped into many individuals with related tales about sick family members who couldn’t get medical marijuana.

So she spent $14 million to renovate two buildings from the former Sharon Steel Corp. in Farrell, Pa.

But since “I don’t have a green thumb,” she says, Myers traveled round the nation to interview the finest natural growers. She additionally started partnering with Penn State University, Case Western Reserve University and Harvard Medical School’s Dana–Farber Cancer Institute on medical analysis.

Aside from desirous to get medical marijuana to individuals who wanted it, Myers additionally yearned to deliver jobs again to a area that struggled for many years following the collapse of the metal business.

Currently, her firm has 77 staff at its two areas. “There are a lot of wonderful people with a great work ethic,” Myers says.

Mark Meyer: Microdistiller

Mark Meyer, now 69, was getting ready to retire from being a lawyer when his grownup youngsters approached him with an concept: beginning a household microdistillery. He and his spouse, Mary Ellen, a retired occupational therapist, have been shocked.

“We weren’t even whiskey drinkers. We drank a little wine,” Mary Ellen says.

But the concept grew on them, and Wigle Distillery, which makes craft whiskey and different spirits, was born in 2012. The first distillery to open In Pittsburgh since Prohibition, it was named after a founding father of the Whiskey Rebellion.

A Whiskey Rebellion of a special sort erupted in Pennsylvania in March 2020 when Pennsylvania liquor shops closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and clients howled in protest. To make issues worse, the preliminary model of the state’s on-line ordering system was a glitch-filled failure.

Wigle Distillery’s new mail-order service has helped the firm survive after its six retail areas have been ordered closed in March.

Meyer was in a position to profit from the Whiskey Rebellion as a result of he had satisfied the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to permit the similar mail-in service granted to state shops years in the past. That a part of his enterprise had by no means gained traction till the pandemic hit.

Wigle has additionally been providing curbside pickup providers throughout COVID-19.

In addition to serving to his clients, Meyer says the modifications in his enterprise have been a “lifesaver” for his award-winning craft brewery.

The new mail-order service has helped Wigle Distillery survive after its six retail areas have been ordered closed in March. The firm reopened one retail location in June.

For all the ups and downs, Meyer says he believes whiskey is as recession-proof as any enterprise.

“If spirits can survive Prohibition, it shows just how resilient it is,” he says.

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