Local businesses try to make ends meet amid COVID-19 outbreak

NORTHEAST, Wi. (WBAY) - Many businesses need to find alternative ways to make a profit while Wisconsin is under a public health emergency. For local shop and restaurant owners, getting support right now is critical.

“We’ve been only been open for a little over six months, so this is definitely not what we were expecting,” said Leah Enking, co-owner of the Pawffee Shop Cat Café in Grand Chute.

Local businesses new and old have needed to make drastic adjustments or even shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most obvious change to the Pawffee Shop Cat Café is its lack of cats entirely after they had to be sent back to Green Bay’s Pet Sanctuary.

“That way they can all be cared for together, just makes it a little bit easier with staff cuts and things like that,” said Enking.

Now the cat café and other food businesses like Appleton’s Bagelicious are relying a lot on delivery and takeout orders. Several are using Eat Street for their delivery service.

“Without some sort of a cash flow us and lots and lots of small businesses aren’t going to be able to keep our doors open,” said Kyle Fritz, owner of Bagelicious.

But there are other ways for people to support local businesses.

“Gift cards are going to be huge for us as well as any small business at this point in time just to kind of help to keep that cash flow coming in,” said Fritz.

The Green Bay West Rotary club even started a “We’ll be back” initiative. Its sole purpose is to encourage gift card purchases, which in many cases can be done online or over the phone.

“We hope as more and more people hear about this, and community members think about it, we’ll continue to see more momentum grow around this initiative,” said President of the rotary club Bob Faulds. “We just want to remind the businesses that when things do come back to normal, we’ll be back.”

Bagelicious is sweetening its deal by offering a free half-dozen bagels with a gift card purchase of at least $25. Other places like the Pawffee Shop are capitalizing a lot of merchandise as well, selling anything from mugs to sweatshirts.

“We’re doing everything that we can to make sure that we can keep going so that when this is all over we can continue to bring people the joy of the cats and find them some more homes, too,” said Enking.

For these small business owners, any support can make a huge difference.

“Our sales are a fraction of what they normally are but they have exceeded my expectations,” said Fritz. “So I thank everybody that has continued to support us.”

“Everybody’s just kind of trying to band together and see what we can do for each other,” said Enking.

To keep up with the deals at Bagelicious, visit its website or Facebook page.

For ways to help the Pawffee shop, visit this web page or visit it’s full website. People can also get updates on the cats and other sales through the cat cafe's Facebook page.