By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
In times like this, every little bit helps struggling businesses. With generous donations from the community, the Oxford Downtown Development Authority was able to raise money through its LoveOxford crowdfunding campaign to support downtown businesses through the current crisis.
The campaign raised $5,250 from over 90 patrons, including a whopping $1,600 check from Oxford resident Clark Harris, on behalf of Titan Wealth Advisors. The funds were enhanced by an additional $4,000 match from Main Street Oakland County, bringing the total up to $9,250.
The DDA used the money to provide micro-grants to 17 businesses that were otherwise unable to receive funding through other grant programs.
“Some of the businesses just haven’t been able to get the same level of contribution, so we wanted to focus on them first,” said Oxford Village Communications Liaison Nicole Edwards-Rankin.
Businesses can use the grants for expenses such as: rent, mortgage, payroll, utilities, inventory, other working capital, costs associated with public health recommendations and marketing.
Qualifying businesses must require face-to-face, in-person contact and need to be located within the boundaries of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority. Businesses cannot be a franchise, major corporation or a publicly-traded business. Sole proprietors with 10 or fewer employees were encouraged to apply.
To promote the campaign, the village put yard signs with slogans like “Love Oxford” and “Oxford Strong” in Centennial Park for anyone to take for their yard. Folks who took a sign were encouraged to make a donation.
$500 awards were given to the following businesses:
The Boulevard Boutique
Caveman & Pip
Gregory Gossick DDS
Oxford Tan & Spa
Spa on the Lake
Funky Monkey Toys
Charm & Company Salons
Studio 113 Hair Salons
Anytime Fitness Oxford
Apothecary & Co
Oxford School of Music
Chuck Schneider, an entrepreneur who owns two of the awarded businesses (Spa on the Lake and Unique stuff) said he was very thankful to receive the grant and appreciates the DDA’s effort.
Business has been tough though. “It’s to the point where there’s virtually hardly any business,” Schneider said.
Unique Stuff, an antique and yard art store on M-24, attracts most of its customers from out of town. But lately, with construction and the virus, they’ve stopped coming.
“There’s too many alternatives. People really got to want to venture out into the land of the unknown,” he said. “I can’t support a store on Oxford residents alone.”
Fortunately, he doesn’t have to worry about rent, since he owns the buildings. “If I was paying rent, both these businesses would be closed.”
He wants to keep positive though, pointing to hopeful developments such as the proposed Beaumont hospital and Oxford 7 movie theater reopening.