OPEN+ONLINE: ‘Clean’ Break From the Pandemic

The Rosedale Laundromat is the definition of the American Dream.

A small business along 243rd street in Rosedale, it is owned and operated by brothers Garry and Sito Sannon, who emigrated to the United States from Haiti decades ago. Rosedale Laundromat opened ten years ago and from that time it has remained a valued resource to the community, open daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

But when the pandemic hit and New York City shut down in March of 2020, brick-and-mortar businesses like Rosedale Laundromat that lacked a digital presence and relied on foot traffic were at a disadvantage.

Thankfully PPP loans allowed the Sannons to keep their two employees, but business came to a near halt and the brothers were forced to reduce the laundromat’s hours of operation from 15 to four. Rosedale Laundromat suffered a huge loss in revenue.

It was around that time that Garry learned about the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the help being offered to entrepreneurs like himself by the Small Business Resource Network. Eighteen months later, Rosedale Laundromat is getting back on its feet by establishing a digital presence.

The Chamber’s Open + Online Program, designs and builds websites for small businesses, pays for one year of website hosting, and gives its owners guidance on how to maximize their digital footprint free of charge.

“This program was created to address the digital divide that exists between small businesses and their customers,” said Michelle Watson, Queens Chamber of Commerce and NYC Small Business Resource Network Business Recovery Tech Specialist. “During the pandemic, we saw more consumers shift to online shopping and even searching for information about businesses on the web before leaving home.

“Small businesses who didn’t have a strong online presence suffered,” she added. “We’re giving those businesses the opportunity to show that not only are they open, but they have a strong online presence to support their customers.”

In addition to website building, the Open + Online program also provides SEO assistance to business owners who already have a website up and running.

“This website will be the future cornerstone where business will be generated,” said Garry Sannon of Rosedale Laundromat’s new online presence. “Times have changed, and the Open + Online Program will help me connect to an additional base of clients that I couldn’t reach in the past. This is the digital outreach that I’ve been looking for.”

In addition, the Sannons worked with the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Network Recovery Specialists to access various resources, including applying for loans. The NYC Small Business Resource Network is powered by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Partnership for New York City.

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