Local small businesses thinking big to weather impact of COVID-19

Posted at 8:48 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 22:26:21-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

CINCINNATI — Long known as a community that supports small businesses, Cincinnati owners are counting on that level of support as stores are seeing customers stay away due to coronavirus concerns.

Denise Bryers' Bootcamp Cincinnati classes in Woodlawn are packed every week.

"People are still scrambling to figure it out," Bryers said. "Every woman and man for themselves."

Now, due to fears of COVID-19, she said things have started quieting down.

"It's pretty much put the bulk of my business at a standstill," she said.

Bryers uses the Woodlawn Recreation Center to host the majority of her bootcamp classes.

"They'll be closing for three weeks -- most of my business comes from my 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. classes," she said. "That's the majority, about 200, 225 people."

Originalitees owner Khisha Asubuhi said she counts on big events to sell local-themed t-shirts.

"Our in-person sales were, like, skyrocketing," Asubuhi said. "So, you know, when we're at different events like the Flying Pig, the Taste of Cincinnati..."

Those events led to Asubuhi to open a store in East Walnut Hills, but now her big grand opening is delayed by coronavirus.

"I"m grateful because I have a job on the side -- however, we still have to pay rent," she said.

Both women are now having to get more creative and use the internet in ways they've never thought of to keep their businesses going.

"We'll have more of an emphasis on the online business," Asubuhi said.

Bryers said she's working on virtual training online or writing up workouts for her clients. Both women said they're working on plans to weather the storm of the virus.

"Just be patient," Asubhi said. "Just be patient, that's all we can do."

At this point, neither woman said they were particularly concerned about contracting COVID-19, but they don't have any idea how things are going to shake out financially and economically over the next few months.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.