Name: Angela Landsberg, Executive Director
Company Name: North Park Main Street
Type of Business: A pedestrian-friendly destination that supports arts, culture and entertainment development while preserving the historical integrity of North Park.
How did you and your organization respond to COVID-19? How did you pivot or reimagine your business or mission? Our main goal during 2020 was to make sure we were helping our businesses navigate the pandemic to the best of our abilities. As small businesses had to constantly adapt to the ever-changing rules and regulations, we remained right alongside them trying our best to make all adjustments go as smoothly as possible. Our staff, with the support of our volunteer board members, helped educate businesses on available funding and loans; we provided up-to-date Covid-19 information through our website and our newsletters; we gave a total of $10,000 to a number of local businesses through our outdoor dining grant; and we created and distributed free “Open for Business” signs to all of our businesses to promote takeout and delivery.
We really tried to keep as many things the same as we could, but in a safe, socially distanced manner. For instance, we reopened the North Park Thursday Market, continued our festivals and events virtually, like the SDCCU North Park Festival of Arts and our Shop Small Holiday Event, and more.
What was the lowest point for your organization during the pandemic? The lowest point of the pandemic was when I had to let staff go due to drastic funding changes, as did many others. As an organization that works tightly together as a team, even letting one person go disrupts our entire ‘ecosystem,’ and it never feels good to let anyone go. It’s been a lot of hard work keeping this organization running with extremely limited staff, but rewarding, nonetheless.
What kept you hopeful? I’ve been so inspired by how hard the local business owners were working to keep their small businesses afloat, watching their dedication and ingenuity throughout the year. Also, seeing the local community rally behind small businesses and make extra efforts to support local and shop small always makes me feel hopeful and lucky to be a part of such an amazing community. It was also incredible to see struggling business owners put the needs of others before their own. For instance, struggling restaurant owners donated meals to frontline workers or houseless individuals; neighboring businesses supported one another by offering their space to be used for additional outdoor dining; and more.
How are you handling the reopening? What are the biggest challenges? What did you see as your biggest opportunities in a post-pandemic world? The biggest challenge has definitely been navigating the uncertainty of the ever-changing rules and regulations. Things change every day, and we’re just doing our best to keep up and maximize our opportunities to support the local businesses. We are using the reopening as an opportunity to sort of reintroduce the North Park business community and let people know, “we’re here and we’re open!” We’ve started a “relaunch committee” at which we focus on ways we can bring people into North Park (safely) and promote the neighborhood. We just finished filming a promotional video which will be distributed and aired soon; we’ve written many blogs advertising what North Park has to offer; and we are beginning to plan our upcoming in-person community events. We are very excited.
What advice do you have for others? Be nimble. Change is inevitable in all areas of life. Remain hopeful. Keep an eye on your long-term goals; don’t be distracted by short-term gains. Ask for help when you need it. Help others when you can.
Now with things seeming a bit more normal, what is the one thing you are looking forward to doing (or have already done)? We are looking forward to bringing all of our community together again through meetings, events and neighborhood outings. We are so excited for live music, community festivals, parades and events to hopefully begin again soon. Mainly, we are excited for North Park to go back to being a destination for gathering with loved ones (and strangers), fun and for feeling a sweeping sense of community.