Bay Area businesses share lessons learned for opening amid COVID-19 pandemic

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- There has been a never-ending cycle of the heartbreaking stories of businesses closing down. The year of the pandemic has closed the doors of so many family favorite restaurants or neighborhood shops, it's hard to keep a tally. But, while the struggles of keeping a business open have been challenging, some entrepreneurs continue to persevere.

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One of those businesses is Holy Cannoli in San Jose. Owner Jamie Whitmire has been busy preparing for the grand opening of her coffee shop next week. The café specializes in cannolis and pies but also doubles as a home to her catering business.
Next Monday, Whitmire will have the grand opening she has been delaying for months.

"We'll just be doing specials throughout the week and really it's just to get the word out that we're here and we are open," said Whitmire.

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Opening a business is a rare move in the time of pandemic, but a move that some have braved despite the odds. That includes Regina Skinner, who took over Blossoms and Botanicals in San Mateo, last June.

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"Basically, it's just one foot in front of the other, one day in front of the next day," said Skinner.

For both women, the pandemic has had some advantages buried in the challenges, like learning to pivot quickly.

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"To-go orders, that's where the business is at, so we're going to redirect our efforts in that direction and see where that takes us," said Whitmire
"From before we did weddings and parties, and now we're just doing deliveries only, just birthdays and anniversaries," Whitmire said, thankful that her business can play a part in the life of their community.

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Both women say another big reason they keep going has been to inspire others not to give up.

"I feel like this grand opening is going to give me that opportunity to let people know that I'm fighting, I'm in this to win it," said Whitmire.

Skinner's number one lesson from opening up a business during a pandemic: "I would say perseverance, you know just pushing through doubt and pushing through fear and being open minded and flexible."

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