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Colorado Small Businesses Getting Creative To Stay Alive

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) - As the coronavirus outbreak continues to take a toll on small businesses, some local companies are getting creative to stay afloat.

Karli Millspaugh, the owner of the Curate gift shop in Centennial, which sells homemade goods from 150 local vendors, said she had to reinvent her business model.

"We rely on foot traffic, we're not an online business," explained Millspaugh. "So, basically, everything came to a screeching halt."

She came up with the idea of selling curated care packages that customers can order online.

A curated care package ready to be shipped off. (credit: CBS)

"We shop for each box individually based on the recipient, and then it goes to our shipping and packaging area, and then we have shipping labels that we print off, and then we get them to the post office," Millspaugh said.

She's not the only one reinventing the wheel.

Linda Sudowski co-owns the My Make Studio in Edgewater with her husband.

Normally, she holds cupcake baking and decorating classes in her shop, but now, she's switched to selling cupcake kits, and customers can learn how to use the kits with online videos.

One of the cupcake kits the My Make Studio is selling during the coronavirus outbreak. (credit: Linda Sudowski)

"When all of this broke out, we pretty much had to lay everybody off, and it was one of the lowest lows I've ever had," Sudowski said.

But, with her new business model gaining traction across the country, Sudowski has already been able to hire back six of her employees and hopes to hire back the rest of her team soon.

Another cupcake kit from the My Make Studio in Edgewater. (credit: Linda Sudowski)

"It's been so fun," Sudowski said. "We are overjoyed by the tremendous support that everybody's given us."

The Small Business Administration says it's here to help, too.

All 50 states, including Colorado, have qualified for the agency's economic injury disaster loan program, which puts low-interest capital loans into the hands of small business owners who need help paying bills or payroll during this difficult time.

Dan Nordberg, a regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, says his agency has never seen an economic disaster quite like this before, calling it "an all hands on deck situation."

"This is the first time that our agency is responding to a biological event," Nordberg said. "This really is an unprecedented event, certainly the size and scope and scale into which the SBA is supporting small businesses around the country, this has never happened."

Millspaugh says even though her care packages are helping to bring in revenue, she still plans to apply for one of those relief loans.

A staff member at Curate in Centennial works to put together a personalized care package. (credit: CBS)

"Right now we are grasping at straws, we have rent to pay, we have overhead to pay, I have 21 amazing team members I am trying to keep employed right now, and they're relying on me for paying their rent and paying for their groceries," Millspaugh said. "So I take great responsibility in knowing I have to honor them and try to keep them working as much as I can, but then I also have bills that I have to pay, so the small business loan is something I'm definitely going to be applying for."

To learn more about the SBA's economic injury disaster loan program, and how to apply, click here.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado  

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