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Business

COVID-19: Western Mass Businesses Start GoFundMe Campaigns To Stay Open

An ice cream maker, a book shop, and an arts venue are among the Western Massachusetts businesses that have turned to fundraising to stay open during the pandemic.
An ice cream maker, a book shop, and an arts venue are among the Western Massachusetts businesses that have turned to fundraising to stay open during the pandemic. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Aaron Pruzaniec

Several local businesses have started GoFundMe campaigns to make ends meet as the pandemic-induced economic downturn continues to eat away at revenue.

Among the businesses that have resorted to fundraising are:

Gateway City Arts, of Holyoke;

Barts and Snows Ice Cream, of Greenfield;

And Odyssey Bookshop, of South Hadley.

Here's why ...

GATEWAY CITY ARTS, Holyoke

Seeking: $70,000

Raised: $29,412

Recipient of GoFundMe Small Business Relief grant ($500)

The first donation was made one month ago.

Gateway City Arts is a converted mill building in the Holyoke Canal District that has provided a stage for performing artists, musicians, comedians, and all sorts of artists for the last nine years. It has a bar, restaurant and conference space. Fundraiser organizer Lori Divine-Hudson said the staff has been reduced to a minimum, but the art space is still struggling to pay the bills.

It costs about $11,000 a month to pay for expenses and licenses at Gateway.

Divine-Hudson said if Gateway City Arts reaches its $70,000 funding goal, the venue will be able to remain viable for another six to seven months.

“Our hope is by then it will be safe and the world will be in a much better place,” she said.

On July 30, Divine-Hudson said an anonymous “matching donor” will match every donation - dollar-for-dollar up to $4,000 - now through Aug. 15.

BARTS AND SNOW ICE CREAM, Greenfield

Seeking: $175,000

Raised: $1,850

Recipient of $500 GoFundMe Small Business Relief grant ($500)

The first donation was made 28 days ago.

Barts and Snow Ice Cream is a 100-year-old business that distributes locally-sourced and made ice cream around New England. The company is seeking to raise $175,000 to support the facility in Greenfield as well as the expansion of Barts’ Local Food to Local Families program. There have been no layoffs at Barts, campaign organizers said on the campaign’s website.

“We want to continue to operate in Greenfield MA a historic community that has been deeply impacted due to the pandemic,” the campaign said.

ODYSSEY BOOKSHOP, South Hadley

In April, the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley surpassed its GoFundMe campaign goal of  $60,000 - they raised $63,679.

Bookshop owner Joan Grenier said she has been overwhelmed by the community’s support. The independent bookseller has been in the center of South Hadley since the 1960s.

With the funds, Grenier said she was able to bring back about half of the staff she had to lay-off due to the pandemic. She hopes to bring every employee back as soon as she is able. The rest of the money went to bills and supplies to fight the spread of COVID-19.

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