Angela Boyle doesn’t know how she is going to pay the $11,000 in overhead costs to keep her business afloat.

Flips Gymnastics, a 10,000-square-foot gym on Wormans Mill Court closed after Gov. Larry Hogan mandated the closure of all gyms on March 16. While Boyle’s business doesn’t necessarily count as a gym, attendance was so low in her classes that she made the tough decision to close and lay off her employees.

But her rent’s still due. Her home mortgage is still due. She’s applied for every grant and loan she can find and hasn’t heard back from anybody.

In a moment of panic, she called her father and asked what to do. He told her to make a GoFundMe and see if anybody would donate.

Downtown restaurants offer curbside pickup after switch to takeout and delivery only

“I'm not comfortable just asking people for money,” Boyle said. “I know people definitely made donations and stuff, but what can I give back for people who have done donations?”

She settled on day passes to the gym when it’s open and Zoom subscriptions to online virtual classes while the gym is closed.

GoFundMe, a website that allows people to raise money for a cause or purpose of their choice, has been increasingly used for people raising money for their medical bills. But most recently, people have turned to the platform to save their businesses.

Jarrett Walsh, owner of The Tasting Room on North Market Street, decided to make a GoFundMe to help pay his employees after having to lay them off.

The Tasting Room was operating with carryout and delivery for two weeks after March 16, in addition to selling their meat wholesale and other products like toilet paper and paper towels. However, it wasn’t enough to sustain the business.

“The first week was almost sustainable — we were losing money every day for sure — but the second week was like 30 percent slower,” Walsh said. “And we couldn't maintain it.”

Walsh didn’t take home any money the whole month of March, and is giving all of the proceeds from the GoFundMe to his employees, most of whom filed for unemployment earlier this week.

Flips GoFundMe

Angela Boyle, owner of Flips Gymnastics, a 10,000-square-foot gym on Wormans Mill Court closed after Gov. Larry Hogan mandated the closure of all gyms on March 16. She is one of many small businesses that have started GoFundMe accounts to seek donations to help her make expenses.

Walsh was able to get a deferment on the restaurant’s rent, but still has bills such as electricity and internet to pay. Additionally, the leap to buy the restaurant at the beginning of the month has left him without much of a cash balance.

“So it's a personal struggle for my family, we were planning on paying ourselves through the restaurant and then I couldn't,” he said.

While Boyle has looked into deferments, she also knows that taking them would put her deeper in debt.

“It just pushes the problem on to another time, I'm trying not to do that. Of course that would be the last case scenario, but I'm still going to owe the money,” she said. “It’s just better for me to try to come up with as much of my minimum expenses as I possibly can.”

Boyle has business interruption insurance, which is supposed to help supply income to a business if it has been forced to close, such as in the event of a storm. However, she said her insurance company is saying that a pandemic and forced government shutdown is not covered.

She also was not able to get a deferment on her home mortgage, which was sold to a new company last month. Boyle is planning on filing a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Both Walsh and Boyle said that they’ve been trying to apply for every grant and loan available, but have either been denied or not heard back from most of them.

Without much assistance from the government, Walsh is appreciative that the community has stepped up.

“Everyone is struggling right now, so I’m not expecting anything. Whatever comes in is great. What the community's done is great,” he said. “They're sending me messages, we've gotten letters, cards, and tons of messages on social media and nothing but support.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley

(9) comments

DickD

Why don't we all advertise, expenses to be paid, need help, please pay my bills. If you can't stand a month or two shut down, your business plan needs some work.

KR999

I doubt that any of the business owners who are asking for financial help via GoFundMe are proud of it, and wouldn't be surprised if most, if not all, are embarrassed or ashamed for finding it necessary. But, if you knew anything about running a small business you'd know that it can take years before a decent profit materializes and I'm sure their need for help is not because of financial mismanagement.

DickD

Panhandling is panhandling.

KellyAlzan

And??

KR999

Panhandling is panhandling, huh Dick? And you think in the midst of the current crisis it's simply that cut and dried? I'm sure all the struggling business owners woefully regret not being as financially responsible as you appear to be/have been.

francesca_easa

How is it that the insurance company can get away with not paying interruption of work payouts? The virus pandemic xan hardly be equal to a weather related disaster. Insurance companies are the biggest crooks on the planet.

captainamericarules

"However, she said her insurance company is saying that a pandemic and forced government shutdown is not covered."

Yeah, I'd be pushing back on this. You pay for business interruption insurance only to have it not pay for... A business interruption? I'm seeing a lot of fat insurance companies pulling the deny first thing during this. That should be treated as a criminal event.

mikec

knowing insurance companies, this isn't surprising.

mikec

Wow, really feel for all the small business owners and their employees. What unfortunate timing on the restaurant purchase. Hard enough to make a dollar when times are good, but buying a month prior to the pandemic, that's especially tough.

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