“In the midst of the chaos, there were a few that seemed to wade into the uncertainly with us, one being Northern Initiatives. Northern Initiatives offered financial assistance right away and the process was seamless and swift.” – Brice Sturmer, Velodrome Coffee Co-owner
At the start of March 2020, two and a half years after launch, Velodrome was growing at a rate they hadn’t expect, business was up 40% over the previous year with a number of incredible opportunities in the horizon beginning to unfold.
When COVID-19 came to the US, owners Brice Sturmer and Paul Vafa had no idea this would impact their business so significantly. Following the lead of businesses in Washington State, though in Michigan, they immediately updated their cleaning procedures and communicated with staff. “Our hope was to support staff on payroll through any situation that occurred, a week later we were shell shocked and laying off the entire staff with no idea what would happen next,” said Sturmer. “It was the hardest day of being a business owner, laying off the staff, turning off the lights, and not knowing when we would turn them back on… if we would turn them back on.”
Sturmer summed up his early experience in seeking financial support for his business. “In the midst of the chaos, there were a few that seemed to wade into the uncertainly with us, one being Northern Initiatives. Northern Initiatives offered financial assistance right away and the process was seamless and swift. The assistance helped restore some of our confidence and allowed us to get vendors paid and continue operating our wholesale roasting and online business. In an effort to explore all our options, we applied for all the other SBA and loan options. IncredibleBank was another great partner offering a swift and easy application process for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.”
To date they have secured a Northern Initiatives bridge loan, a PPP loan, and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance and are still waiting on the status on their EIDL overall. This critical support enabled them to bring back full-time employees and begin offering pick-up and delivery for beverages out of their downtown cafe.
“Our goal moving forward is maintaining the highest standards of safety for our staff and customers. We plan to monitor the ever-changing situation on a daily basis,” shared Sturmer. “We think of our coffee producing partners across the globe who are also being severely impacted by the is situation and we feel it’s our duty to do everything we can to keep our purchasing volume the same. They do not have access to the relief resources we do in the US, nor the healthcare. All said, if we’re doing everything we can to sell coffee safely, it’s the only way coffee farmers at the beginning of the supply chain can move forward.”
“Lastly, our community has been the biggest support of all! Customers have easily adapted to the changes in service and have continued to seek out ways to support our business. They have been incredibly patient and understanding as well… it goes without saying but the only reason we’ve ever been able to open and turn the lights on each day is because of the customers that believe in our brand and want to support the concept of personally sourced, directly traded coffee.”