ALBUQUERQUE — Lucy Romero and Doug Wood struggled to keep their two northwest Albuquerque establishments afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they remain in business today.
“It’s an incredible feeling. We’re still optimistic. We’re not going to lose hope, for sure,” Romero said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are optimistic. We’re hoping people are here to stay.”
The couple, who reside in Rio Rancho, owns the Anytime Fitness gym at Unser and McMahon NW, as well as Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming just south of Cottonwood Mall. Their gym opened in February 2017, and Woof Gang in July 2020.
The couple also dealt with the economic blow brought on by restrictions businesses faced in 2020.
Under last year’s statewide COVID-19 restrictions for businesses, Romero said Woof Gang could only provide its premium dog food and dog treats — which was an essential service — and had to close down its grooming services for a couple months.
She said the grooming service fell under the “salon” category, which was not an essential service.
“Obviously everyone took a huge hit… We had our expectations low because everything was pretty much shut down,” said Romero, who’s worked in the fitness industry for the last 29 years.
Wood, Sandoval County Sheriff from 2010-18, said Anytime Fitness had to close down for four or five months over the course of 2020.
Wood said it costs the gym more than $25,000 per month just to keep the doors open and to operate, and it bled more than $15,000 a month through the pandemic. Come November, he said, it reached a point where Anytime Fitness was bracing to close its doors for good and file bankruptcy within 30 days afterward.
“The problem’s that the gym was the guarantor for the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) loan for Woof Gang. So, when they shut the gym down, the bank froze the money… The bank was not going to release any more funding until the gym reopened,” Wood said.
He said both establishments are independent limited liability companies, meaning both had to survive independently.
Sure enough, both establishments are still here, getting back on their feet as vaccinations went up and the restrictions gradually lifted.
Wood said the current situation has improved to where money’s not bleeding out, but it remains unknown what the immediate future brings for the two buildings because of the emergence of the Delta variant.
“We’re still trying to recover and get our members back to our facility, but nothing’s guaranteed,” Romero said.