By Libby Rosequist
Sunny Shores Tanning & Treasures received state funding through the COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) Program. It was one of only three businesses in Erie County to be approved for the loan.
This loan is administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) and provides financing to small businesses located within the commonwealth that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sunny Shores owner Kristin Smithers applied for the loan as soon as it was available in hopes of keeping the business going, with an unknown date when salons will get the green light to open again.
“After celebrating our first year of business and having just ended the slower season, we were very concerned that closing during the three busiest months of the year would make the upcoming year much more difficult,” Smithers said. “We stayed on top of all the loans being offered, and the Pennsylvania one was actually the first one to open up for applications. It was our first move to ensure us being able to reopen and hopefully stay open, in spite of being closed during the months that make or break an entire year for all in the UV industry.”
All CWCA loan applications must be submitted through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO).
An eligible small businesses must be a limited liability company, and have 100 or fewer full-time employees at the time of submission of the application.
“After the waiting game, all the while knowing our funds were depleted, the office called me to let me know I was approved for the amount requested,” Smithers said. “The requested amount was based off of six months of specific expenses, divided by two.”
The funds will need to be repaid in full after the three years.
“We have three years to pay off the loan and have to stay in communication with proof that the funds are being used for the expenses it is allowed to be used for,” Smithers said.
After approval the funds were directly wired to Sunny Shores to begin covering expenses.
Sunny Shores was approved for a loan of $16,400 which equates to about a month and a half of their normal monthly expenses.
“This money will help cover some of the big expenses that didn’t stop while we’re closed, like rent, mortgage on equipment and insurance,” Smithers said. “It will help when we are able to open so we can hopefully recover from this faster, but we will have to work extra hard to come up with the loan payments.
“We do have an amazing customer base, and even while we have been closed everyone has been so supportive of us. They are like a family and we miss them as much as they miss us.”
While Sunny Shores is still waiting on clarification on whether the tanning facilities can reopen under Gov. Tom Wolf’s, Yellow Phase, the retail side of business has been approved.
Sunny Shores is regulated by the health department and has always gone above and beyond for sanitization and disinfecting procedures.
“It is not something that we have ever taken lightly and all the guidelines have reassured us that our attention to detail and cleanliness has always been the right move,” Smithers said. “We have reorganized and arranged our retail lobby to be social distancing friendly. We have added the sneeze shields to our counter, installed a mobile check in kiosk near the entrance to limit head to head interaction as much as possible, placed social distancing spacers for the line and revamped our appointment system so we can easily control multiple appointments.
“We will be allowing new customer signups online, added a HEPA and UVC air purifier for our front space, ozone purifiers run in the service area at night and continue to operate,we added HVAC UVC filtration systems to our three air, heating and cooling systems, and added more hand sanitizer stations.
“We’ve enclosed everything that typically is touched, so no worries about cross contamination. Our disinfectants are hospital grade and approved for killing coronavirus.”
“We hope that every business has the chance to get help, not just in the form of loans, everything available through SBA or PA is a loan, yes there is a little bit of grant money through the EIDL loan but the caps on that have made it a very low assist and so many businesses are struggling during this time, some who have already decided to sell or close. It is heartbreaking,” Smithers said. “When all of this is done and you feel the need to splurge, please think of all the local mom and pop shops, where you can see them walking their dogs in the morning, or taking their children for a stroll in the park on the weekends.
“Private sector employers make up 50% of America’s workforce and the world is a much prettier place with smiling, local businesses here for us!”