Crowdfunding brings hope as businesses close down due to COVID-19

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Crowdfunding sites are seeing a surge of shuttered businesses and laid-off workers looking to the community for financial supports after COVID-19 closures.

More than 200,000 Minnesotans work in the restaurant and bar industry, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). DEED said 95,000 applications for unemployment were filed from Monday through Thursday.

There’s a sign that reads, "Closed for Now” outside Modern Times Café in Minneapolis.

"We’ve maintained through a lot of tough times but never closed our doors," said Dylan Alverson, who has owned the Powderhorn neighborhood restaurant for nine years.

Alverson said he never thought he’d have to help staff learn about unemployment options.

‘We’re a busy restaurant, but the money’s going to run out soon — probably after our payroll, which comes on Monday," Alverson said.

That’s why Alverson launched a GoFundMe page to try and help his workers and also make sure the business can reopen after COVID-19 concerns ease. As of Friday afternoon, it’s raised nearly $12,000.

"It means the world, it’s amazing, I’m not the person who asks for handouts or help," Alverson said. “It’s so kindhearted and generous, especially when everyone is uncertain of their futures."

Support these local businesses that have turned to alternative funding

That community support from crowdfunding is also being felt over at the Seward Café, a staple in the community on East Franklin Street in Minneapolis since the mid-1970s.

"It makes me feel like we have the support of our community hardcore," said Jo Facklam one of the cooperative owners.

The business said they are trying to "flatten the curve" by keeping the doors closed, which comes with tough economic hardships.

"It’s been very scary, taking it day by day, hour by hour," said Chloe McClaren, another member of the cooperative at Seward Café.

The Electric Fetus music shop, which has been in the Twin Cities since the late 1960s, closed its doors for the time being because of COVID-19 concerns. However, they’re keeping online sales open.

That meant 46 employees were laid off, which led those workers to start their own GoFundMe site to help with lost wages.

“Not only to morally do right thing, but sales dropped so dramatically we had no other choice,” owner Aaron Meyerring said. “This was the hardest thing we have ever had to do and to make the decision in a couple of hours made it that much worse.”

Altogether, GoFundMe told KSTP on Friday that in the past seven days, 27 GoFundMe campaigns were created in St. Paul and 42 in Minneapolis, all centered around COVID-19.

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