For more than 300 days a year in the Coachella Valley, residents and visitors can count on the sun shining. That’s why they visit, spend money at local businesses, and ultimately it figures into their decision to move here. Coachella Valley small businesses hope “The Sun Will Keep Shining” after the black cloud cast by the COVID-19 pandemic begins to break up with the easing of restrictions in the coming months.
But even when that happens, the impact of business closures almost overnight in mid-March has left a devastating impact that many Coachella Valley small businesses and their employees will continue to feel.
“We lost most of our season,” says Christine Soto, who co-owns Dead or Alive wine bar in Palm Springs. “March is usually my best month and helps to get through the summer. Now we have to crawl our way to next year.”
Soto has joined forces with Ashley Busenius Coy and her husband Glen, who own Windmill City Screen Printing in Cathedral City, to create a website, “Keep Shining Palm Springs” that will take donations and divert the money collected to small businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19 in the Coachella Valley.
Specifically, 75 percent of funds raised will be divided among the participating small businesses based on their number or employees as of February 2020 while 25 percent will go to individuals impacted by COVID-19. Currently, 17 small businesses are participating.
Donations can be made by purchasing items with the slogan, “The Sun Will Keep Shining” emblazoned on baseball caps, tot bags, bandanas, T-shirts, sticker packs, and postcard packs. Monetary donations can also be made by contributing to a tip jar icon on the website.
Busenius Coy says she and her husband were spurred to create a local fund after hearing of similar efforts by fellow screen printers.
“We want to create a non-profit for future disasters to help small businesses,” Ashley says. “We love to have people visit here and love to have them patronize small businesses, so this effort is to help make sure they are still there when we come back from this pandemic.”
A native of Palm Springs, Soto remembers when the city was like a ghost town after Desert Fashion Plaza closed in the 1990s. She doesn’t want to see that again.
“We’re banding together and everyone is helping each other,” Soto says of the valley’s business community.
Busenius Coy recalls graduating from college when the 2008 recession hit, and her husband owned a skateboard shop that suffered a sales slump. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Ashley says of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. “Almost all facets of our business have been impacted. Our clientele is hospitality, retail, and schools, and no one is open, so we’re trying to remain resourceful.”
The screen printing shop has been turned into a shop to manufacture protective masks. They secured a mask pattern from one of their suppliers for ink and screening materials, and one of their employees who had to be layed off turns out to be a good seamstress. "It just snowballed from there,” Busenius Coy says. “We sell them online and half of the sale goes to the seamstress who made it.”
To make a donation or purchase an item, visit windmillcityscreenprinting.