Weathering the Pandemic

Small business owners share their secrets for keeping things going in 2020 and 2021.
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weathering the pandemic
Shasta Smith, owner of The Vintage Monkey and The Altar Room.

In spring 2020, we witnessed a shift in the atmosphere as the pulse of Sacramento cease—venues closed, education and after-school programs halted, businesses boarded up and whole streets took on ghostly qualities. To some, it felt like an apocalyptic nightmare. People who serve the community in various industries were affected—and some worse than others. The set of images presented here depicts the faces of a few who are grateful to the community for its continued loyalty, which granted them the ability to stay in business.

I sought out smaller mom-and-pop-style shops because small businesses drive a large portion of our nation’s gross domestic product—the lifeline of America. “Small business” drives the culture and lifestyle of a community.

aaron hood. weathering the pandemic
Aaron Hood dresses for the occasion as he tends bar at B Side, a ’70s-influenced dive bar in downtown Sacramento. Like many restaurants and pubs, the business converted its parking lot into an outdoor lounge.
Jonathan “Big Body Johnny” Corona. weathering the pandemic
Jonathan “Big Body Johnny” Corona has been a physical trainer and owner of downtown’s Tensile Strength since 2013. When the pandemic closed the facility’s doors, Corona muscled his way through the tough times by allowing customers to take training equipment home.
Shasta Smith is owner of The Vintage Monkey
Shasta Smith is owner of The Vintage Monkey, a classic motorcycle restoration shop, and The Altar Room, an intimate event rental venue. Formerly located on 16th Street, the business relocated to East Sacramento.
Derrick Warmerdam, owner of Mid Century Sacramento
Derrick Warmerdam, owner of Mid Century Sacramento, a midcentury-modern furniture dealer, decided to purchase his first warehouse in July 2021. The pandemic demand for WFH office furniture allowed for an 800% growth in sales.
Mike Oliver, owner and teacher at Zen Martial Arts. Weathering the Pandemic
Mike Oliver, owner and teacher at Zen Martial Arts in East Sacramento, pivoted from giving in-person lessons to online lessons. As the city partially reopened, Oliver offered his dojo from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for tutoring services. This service has been extended as an afterschool program called Elevate Youth Academy.
Sam Hong is the owner of Fresh Cleaners. Weathering the Pandemic
Sam Hong is the owner of Fresh Cleaners, with locations in midtown and Natomas. Much of Hong’s business relied on downtown workers, many of whom have yet to return to work. Hong remains optimistic despite a 60% drop in sales and limited staffing.
Alfonso and Lorena Martinez, owners of The Colour Bar on K Street. Weathering the Pandemic.
Alfonso and Lorena Martinez, owners of The Colour Bar on K Street, shifted their business model to include online retail of hair care products. Since then, they’ve become the No. 1 seller of products by Bassett Salon Solutions.