Hertha Sabol demonstrates how to cut monks cloth by first pulling a thread out, then cutting along the missing thread-line.
Photo Amy Byres / Observer

Most business owners are still struggling with the curve-ball COVID-19 and related restrictions threw at them, cutting their profits.

In late March, the Observer talked to several Rio Rancho businesses to understand their challenges after non-essential businesses were closed and restaurants limited to take-out and delivery only by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public-health emergency orders. We followed up with those same businesses, plus one more, last week.

On May 16, all retail stores were able to reopen at 25 percent capacity, but other restrictions remained in place.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company

“(Community members) have come in and been really supportive and very generous,” said Turtle Mountain Brewing Company owner Nico Ortiz said. “We miss the ability to interact with them more than just on a five- to 10-minute basis when they come in to pick up their order, then leave.”

Turtle revenues are down 55 percent, Ortiz said. On the last payroll, he had 33 of his previous 60 employees, he said.

“We were hopeful the governor would give us the opening on the 15th, but she decided against that. We are just waiting around for her to give us the go-ahead for limited occupancy and we can get more people back to work,” Ortiz said.

He has received help from the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, and others, he said.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to utilize the (PPP). It’s in the bank sort of as an insurance policy. If the governor gives us the go-ahead, then I am certainly going to be about to hire a whole bunch of people back, and we will be able to start spending some of that money,” Ortiz said.

He said if he doesn’t use the money, he will return it.

“The governor is going to have a lot of requirements for us, and a lot of them are perfectly acceptable,” he said.

He plans for changes including:

• Tables remain 6 feet apart;

• Plexiglass between booths;

• Masks for employees; and

• Abiding by new health rules.

What Turtle Mountain does will be dictated by customer comfort, he said.

Mom Dad Kids Barbershop

Co-owner Sinahy Clavel Jasso struggled to receive unemployment due to the independent-contractor status most barbers have within Mom Dad Kids Barbershop, leasing their booths rather than working as regular employees.

In early May, Jasso was able to receive unemployment insurance.

“As far as the barbershop goes, it has not received any help. We got denied for the small-business loans. We don’t know if we did it wrong,” she said.

Jasso said she is eager to get back to work.

“We are going on three months paying rent for a business we are not allowed to use,” Jasso said. “The landlords themselves aren’t helping us, either. The barbershop cannot go another month or two with having to pay rent when there is no money coming in.”

She is also concerned about employee and customer safety and will institute COVID safe practices in the shop.

“I believe the changes the shop will have to do will stay permanent; it’s going to be the only way we can keep ourselves and clients safe,” she said

Rio Rancho Mail, Print & Ship

Rio Rancho Mail, Print & Ship owner Curtis McCann said things are looking up. His business is considered essential.

Because Rio Rancho Mail, Print & Ship has only been open since February, McCann does not qualify for many of the relief loans. In April, business was down 50 percent, and May is looking about 5 percent better, he said.

“Some days, it seems like it’s going to be busy, or it does get busy, and then the next couple of days, it’s just dead,” he said. “Business seems to be coming back, but I am not certain. I have to wait till I have positive days back to back.”

Rio Rancho Mail, Print & Ship at 4300 Ridgecrest Drive, Ste. L, is cleaned thoroughly every day, and its surfaces are disinfected throughout the day, McCann said.

4K Weightlifting

Owners Jenna Paulson and Mathew Erdman of 4K Weightlifting sent gym members home with equipment after closing March 17, ahead of the governor’s order.

“We’ve been doing virtual classes for our members, but we have lost about 75 percent of our revenue, and it’s been a struggle to pay the rent,” Paulson said.

She and Erdman are not applying for loans because they do not want to have to pay money back later, she said. Paulson said she hopes the governor will reopen gyms June 1.

“We’ve always had rules set in place that members must clean their equipment once they are finished using it — so that won’t change, but I think we are certainly going to implement a deeper cleaning of each weightlifting station once a member is done with that area,” she said. “The way our weightlifting gym is set up, our stations are already spaced out 6 feet apart or more, so that will be really easy to maintain.”

Local businesses need something to help them that is free and that would in turn help to create a safe generation of business once things reopen, she said.

“We are here to help people achieve their fitness goals and help with being both physically and mentally fit during this time and in the future,” she said.

Enchanted Creations

Revenues have about doubled for Hertha Sabol’s home-based fabric store, Enchanted Creations.

“Two weeks ago, on Saturday, I was in my shop for 11 straight hours,” she said.

Sales have been good with people making masks, even though the public isn’t allowed inside her shop. Sabol has two rows of shelves emptied.

Customers have been calling her at 250-5546 and placing orders, which she leaves on her porch for curbside pickup.

Sabol has noticed that business has slowed since non-essential businesses are reopening. She plans to reopen her shop May 26, requiring face masks and only one to two people inside shop at a time.

“And I will also request to spray the bottom of their shoes,” she said.

About the author

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer