With spring 2020 around the corner, Roxanna and George Snead, Owners of Braehead Farm, and their staff prepared for events around the farm that would host a couple of thousand people over the coming weeks. In the blink of an eye, all events were canceled and they found themselves in an unprecedented situation wondering how they would keep the business going.
They sent their staff home, and began canceling field trips, weddings, and one of the largest Easter egg hunts in Fredericksburg, VA. “We had to cancel the Easter Event. We had to cut back hours for our employees that we just brought back. We had to give back all of the barn rental booking deposits. The school groups started canceling the spring field trips. We barely had income, some days operating in the negative.”
Roxanna worked with their SBDC consultant, Brian Baker, and applied for grants and loans to help keep the business afloat during the pandemic. While she waited for a response, she knew the business would need more help if they wanted to keep it going. Their current business model focused on season passes, but they were not able to sell these this year. So, they redirected their efforts for income to the farm fields. Brian remarked, “Roxanna and George were very quick and very strategic to transform how they do business. It is a testimony to their success.”
Weeks later, the loans and the grant Roxanna applied for were finally available for use. “The PPP allowed us to get to our busy season without having to lose our employees completely. It helped us catch up. It relieved some of the stress knowing that we would be able to make it to a season we had invested so much in.”
With a focus on the farm and with strawberry season approaching, Braehead Farm found a way to open up so that people could safely visit the farm, keep 6 feet apart from others, and purchase farm goods. “Our business changed from income mainly from events, rentals, field trips and admissions for Family Playgrounds, to the income coming from “pick your own” and market sales. The farm has new customers we may not have ever had because their lives would have been too busy to find something new and safe to do outdoors.”
With some quick strategic thinking, funding, and support from their community, Braehead Farm fared well throughout one of the most challenging times for businesses. Roxanna shared, “Through the pandemic our business changed completely. We found that people were wanting to get out of their homes by the end of April, beginning of May, with their families. We set up outside checkout, pre orders and curbside pickup. We advertised our safety protocols for our guests and asked guests to comply with these protocols upon their visit.”
The Sneads are now preparing for fall events optimistically. “Currently we are trying to prepare for our Annual Fall Festival Month in October. We are not sure what the fall will bring in terms of shut downs, but we hope people will continue to look to us as a safe outdoor space for fun family time. We are currently working on plans to change our usual operation of our Fall Festival to comply with the safety standards of COVID.”
Check out George and Roxanna Snead’s Farm for your next event or outing!
See our other blog regarding Changes in the PPP Forgiveness program.
To see if your business can apply for the PPP or EIDL loan, please email your SBDC consultant or call (540) 654-1383 to become a client and get help.