With the latest restrictions issued on indoor gatherings, more and more San Diego County businesses are taking their operations outdoors. On Saturday, several businesses in Liberty Station took their classes outside.
While business owners are adapting, they admit it has been a struggle to stay afloat.
“This is a non-profit, but I’ve put so much of myself into this,” said Steffanie Dotson, founder of San Diego Craft Collective.
“To have things shut down, I think the worst of it was not knowing what was going to happen,” Dotson said.
San Diego Craft Collective aims to teach woodwork to the community. On Saturday, Dotson was hosting a woodworking for women class right outside her normal workshop. She had to close the workshop for months and is hopeful she can continue to connect with clients outdoors.
“I think we’ll just keep rolling with the punches trying to figure things out," she said.
Liberty Station offers a lot of open space for businesses to expand outdoors. The sound of dance music rang through the parking lot outside Spark Cycle.
“Our classes filled up today within 30 seconds so that just filled me up. Hopefully, it keeps us going for the next couple of months if we stay closed,” said Stephanie Cochran, owner of Spark Cycle.
Cochran’s indoor studio reopened last month, but she was forced to shut down after an employee tested for COVID-19. The uncertainty of the pandemic has caused financial and mental stress on business owners like Cochran.
“The hardest part is on my employees, having to let them go, asking them to come back and not knowing whether to file for unemployment or not. That’s been the trickiest and the hardest on me personally," Cochran said.
She’s hoping normal operations can resume within the next couple of months if the State of California allows it. As she watched her instructors lead an outdoor class, Cochran was optimistic.
“Right now, the energy is amazing and we just want to go out with a bang,” Cochran said.
From ballet to yoga, the space in Liberty Station has allowed businesses to keep taking clients.
“It was truly scary, to be honest. It was something we never experienced,” said Beth Belkin, manager at Yoga Six.
Belkin’s studio briefly reopened before indoor businesses were restricted for a second time.
“We’re disappointed. We definitely followed every safety protocol,” Belkin said.
She says no one who went to her studio has reported being sick.
“This has been exhausting, but this is part of the practice of yoga: being in the moment, being present, being agile and able to quickly adapt to the situation,” Belkin said.
Besides San Diego, several other cities in the county have passed ordinances to help businesses expand outdoor operations including, Coronado, Poway, Chula Vista, and Vista.