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Bouncing Back: Dayton Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic

Bouncing Back: Dayton Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic

Dayton has earned a reputation for supporting entrepreneurs. And small businesses have played a key role in the city’s recovery from the last decade’s Great Recession. Now, many small businesses are struggling mightily to survive the economic shock of the pandemic. A year after the coronavirus first shuttered businesses, WYSO is bringing you the stories of small-business owners. We’ll hear what they’ve learned, how they’re coping and staying safe, and what makes them hopeful in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. What emerges is a picture many Daytonians would likely recognize: resilience amid financial pain, hardship and uncertainty.

For seven weeks starting March 24 2021, you will hear Dayton small-business owners in conversation with each other, sharing their experiences, hopes and fears about running a small business during the coronavirus pandemic.

The series was produced by Jess Mador from The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices in collaboration from Audrey Ingram and Launch Dayton, a network supporting entrepreneurs across the Dayton region. Center director Neenah Ellis was the editor.
  • Mary Kay Smith runs the Winds Cafe and Winds Wine Cellar in Yellow Springs. For several years now, she has bought the coffee she serves from Audria Maki, who runs Reza’s in Dayton. Smith has been a mentor to Maki, and the two have helped each other get through the pandemic, both as professionals and parents.
  • Mandy Grosko’s company, Ella Bella Homemade makes small batch gluten-free flour and baking mixes. Kait Brown’s Savorista Coffee makes small-batch decaf and half-caf coffees. As the women grew their businesses, a friendship was born, and now they say the pandemic has reminded them that it’s important to connect beyond the bottom line.
  • Vaniti Byrd is the founder and owner of BabaLove Organics, a small-batch organic, plant based skin care company and LaKeisha Grant is the company data strategist. Vaniti started Baba Love in her home kitchen before branching out into a storefront early last year. She says small retail businesses like hers are still facing shipping and delivery delays.
  • In this edition of Bouncing Back – Dayton Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic, we hear from Elizabeth Wiley, known as Wiley, and Liz Valenti, two of three chef-owners from Meadowlark Restaurant and Wheatpenny Oven and Bar.
  • After a successful Fortune 500 sales career, Chad Diggs took the leap to entrepreneurship and became his own boss. Now, he owns a number of Miami Valley businesses. All saw a steep drop in sales as the pandemic took hold in 2020. But one business has since rebounded bigger than ever. It’s an online gift-basket business called Edible Arrangements in Kettering. Diggs is a Trotwood native and University of Toledo college football athlete who says the rollercoaster of the pandemic is testing his leadership skills like never before.
  • In this installment of Bouncing Back – Dayton Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic, we meet a mother daughter team named Paula Willis and Alleah Cooks. Their business revolves around their love of plants and they specialize in terrariums works of art made with living plants.
  • Carly Short and Amanda Hensler are part of a group of friends who own several popular Oregon District businesses including Heart Mercantile. They say the past year has been especially traumatic for business owners who also experienced the 2019 Oregon District mass shooting. It happened across the street from Heart Mercantile’s storefront.