There will always be challenges associated with running a small business, many of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rockland Trust understands that even though many companies are now returning to somewhat normal operations, businesses need resources to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.
The annual Small Business, Big Dreams contest is Rockland Trust’s way of acknowledging the backbone of our local economy: the small businesses in our local area that make a difference in their communities. The three finalists of our 4th annual Small Business, Big Dreams contest have been chosen based on their hopes, resilience and visions for the future. The winner will receive $20,000 to help achieve their goals, and the two runners-up will receive $5,000 each.
MOBAR Cuts Keeps Hoops Stars and Mass. Residents Looking Nice
There is a reason that Candido (Coco) Fernandez is the preferred barber for most of the Boston Celtics players. His Waltham-based barbershop is mobile, turning haircuts into memorable and personalized experiences. He loves his profession because it enables him to be “super expressive” and use his skills to give back to others.
As his customer base grew, Coco realized that he needed a brick-and-mortar location, in addition to his mobile shop, to keep up with demand. He took a leap of faith and opened a physical barbershop in Waltham, complete with renovations that cost a substantial amount.
Unfortunately, this coincided with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in early 2020 that required non-essential businesses to close temporarily. When he finally reopened his doors, business continued to be slow due to social distancing requirements and fear around the virus. With his employees in mind, he turned to the team at Rockland Trust to advise him on the best financial plan for MOBAR Cuts, and he’s now seeing an upswing in business!
If his business were to win the contest, he would focus on renovations to his mobile shop and storefront as well as invest in some digital marketing. Coco’s long-term goal? To optimize an app to assemble a “fleet” of mobile barbershops across the country. In the meantime, he will continue offering the most unique experience possible. He says, “I always tell people that when [you] get a haircut from me, you’re guaranteed to be more handsome because of the things that I focus on.”
110 Fitness Creates a Space for Fitness for All
Many gyms aim to be inclusive, but 110 Fitness in Rockland is built on this value. 110 Fitness is a specialized gym that offers a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place for all people, including those with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The small staff of four includes owner Brett Miller, who created the business in honor of his military team.
The team believes in removing ableism from the gym and helping everyone reach their full potential. They provide transportation for clients to get to the gym and offer research-based exercise and wellbeing programs, such as boxing for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they quickly pivoted to virtual programming. With everyone working out at home, it was also the perfect opportunity for them to launch the first-ever wellness app for people with Parkinson’s disease.
With $20,000, Brett and his team would expand their marketing efforts for the app and purchase higher-quality video equipment. In addition to making a positive impact on people’s lives with Parkinson’s worldwide, their long-term plan is to integrate other wellness experts like movement disorder specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neuropsychologists and bodywork professionals!
Faneek’s Coney Island Brings Fun Treats to Fall River
If you can’t go to Coney Island, the next best choice is Fall River! At Faneek’s Coney Island family restaurant, customers can order authentic, Coney-Island-style hot dogs and other treats. Faneek’s has been open for 70 years, bringing the community of Fall River together with family fun nights and events for kids. Owner Liz Carpenter wants to encourage people to visit the city and organize community events that help people and populations in need, including survivors of domestic violence.
Faneek’s remained open during the pandemic, but replaced in-person services with COVID-safe services such as a carhop and contactless ordering. Liz also recalls that “during COVID, there was a lot of emotion. A lot of us sat back and thought to ourselves, ‘there has to be something that we can do.’”
This inspired the team to create the Love Wins Pay it Forward program that allows generous customers to purchase a meal for a community member in need. Recognizing that individuals in need deserve dignity and compassion, they can order this meal discreetly as a “Faneek’s special.”
What lessons did the Faneek’s team take away from the pandemic? People love to eat outside in the fresh air! With $20,000 from the contest, they would expand their outdoor seating and add a handicap-accessible entrance to the restaurant. Oh, and start a food truck!
We are Here to Help Dreamers Realize Their Business Goals
Our small business community has showcased resilience and compassion throughout the pandemic. Rockland Trust is proud to help thousands of businesses reach their goals and continue to strengthen communities across Massachusetts.
Think you have the next best thing or want to turn your passion project into a profit-making endeavor? Check out the Learning Center for helpful resources to help you start and run your business.
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