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Responding to Crisis: How Small Businesses are Facing Challenges with Resilience

Mar 14, 2022

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The life of a small business owner is not always easy. It is filled with ups and downs, victories and obstacles, triumphs and losses.

In the past few years especially, small business owners have been facing challenges like never before. But even in the midst of these hardships, these inspiring entrepreneurs have proven to be relentless in their pursuit of small business success.

These are their stories.

Bearscat Bakehouse

Kevin & Tina Cavanagh – Bismarck, ND

Challenge: When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in 2020, Kevin and Tina (Bearscat Bakehouse) experienced a lot of confusion from a management perspective as they worked to navigate new rules and regulations from the CDC, state governments, health departments, and financing programs throughout the various cities they are located.

Response: The Cavanaugh’s built a network of like-minded business owners throughout the community as a way to find support and get updates on different regulations and recommendations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story here.

Prairie Sky Breads

Travis & Brandy Gerjets, Zach & Jazmine Schultz – Minot, ND

Challenge: Prairie Sky Breads needed to quickly transform their dine-in business model to a predominately curbside “to-go” business when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. just one month after their grand opening. They were forced to learn how to promote their new business, accommodate for online ordering, and make majors changes in a short matter of time.

Response: The bakery and coffee shop chose to prioritize customer service as they went through this transition and implemented a “phone hero” – a designated individual assigned to answer the phone who has a knack for solving problems, practicing empathy, and showing people how they can support you.

Read the full story here.

Thunder Coffee

Skyler, Dexter, & Nicole Dutton – Fargo, ND

Challenge: With a focus on “community-driven coffee”, Thunder Coffee was struggling to find ways to live out this vision when the Coronavirus pandemic suspended all events. Despite losing a large portion of their brand, the coffee shop’s revenues also decreased dramatically.

Response: Skyler, Dexter, and Dutton utilized their drive-through window to maintain business as much as possible, along with producing micro-batches of their own roasted coffee for purchase as a new revenue stream. The team also partnered with local artists to create the labels, packaging, and crafting kits to sell in lieu of their events they typically host.

Read the full story here.

Corbin Insurance Agency

Daniel Corbin – Bozeman, MT

Challenge: The COVID-19 pandemic had many financial ramifications on the Corbin Insurance’s customers, who struggled to afford and maintain their insurance amidst the many unknowns. In addition, a lightning strike sparked a large fire in the Bridger Foothills around early September, impacting the homes, properties, and farms of many of Daniel’s customers.

Response: Daniel’s team began making courtesy calls to check in with their customers and set up alternative payment plans. Daniel also spent a week assisting some of his customers and community members that were affected by the Bridger Fires. He helped families move their valuables, evacuated areas, moved cattle/horses, and helped contain fire until the crew arrived.

Read the full story here.

Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks

Nick Holwegner, Eric Johnson, Dylan Davis, & Brady Nixon – Minot, ND

Challenge: Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks had a steep loss in revenues since customers could no longer come in and enjoy a pint of beer.  Because many bars and restaurants were also closed down across the state, the microbrewery’s distribution numbers also dropped to 0.


Response: Atypical decided to shift their business model to straight off-sale, putting 100% of their beer into cans. This was a labor-intensive process that allowed them to retain all their employees during this time of unknowns.

Read the full story here.

Bright Futures Learning Center

Chelsey Steinlicht – Fargo, ND

Challenge: Bright Futures daycare struggled with balancing the social distancing and health/safety regulations with classroom capacity and staff ratio requirements due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was also challenging to retain and compensate staff who were working long hours and putting themselves at risk of COVID-19 in the process.

Response: Chelsey adapted her business model and began hiring additional help, placing “sneeze guards” throughout the classrooms, and taking temperatures and COVID-19 tests. Futures also began providing 24-hour care to foster children and children of first responders who needed emergency care during this time.

Read the full story here.

Petopia Pet Daycare

Travis & Katie Horney – Grand Forks, ND

Challenge: Because people stopped traveling and going to work during the Coronavirus pandemic, Petopia went from operating at its peak to losing close to 90% of their revenue streams.

Response: Travis and Katie applied for a PPP loan in order to help compensate and retain their staff during this time. Petopia also waived the $5 pick-up and $5 drop-off fees for transporting dogs, allowing them to better serve their customers and first responders who needed pet care.


Read the full story here.

Johnson Family Dentistry

Dr. Kirsten Andrews – Devils Lake, ND

Challenges: When her dental practice closed down for 6 weeks due to COVID-19, Dr. Andrews (Johnson Family Dentistry) struggled to manage the unknowns that came along with the shutdown such as their financial status, patients, and staff.

Response: Dr. Andrews worked with a consulting company to help her manage her finances and set up her practice to optimize their operations when they were open again. When the 6 weeks were over, Johnson Family Dentistry implemented new practices such as mask and waiting room requirements, new HEPA filters, and Plexiglas to help ensure the safety of her patients and staff.

Read the full story here.

To read the full stories of these businesses and more, visit our Success Story page.