Adopt a Business Program
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Recently two local businessmen decided to start an Adopt a Business Program in Rutherford. Barry Goffin of 64 Park Gift Boutique and Alcides Aguasvivas of Pix-l Graphx began this grassroots initiative to help Rutherford’s small businesses. This is Rutherford interviewed both of these men to learn more about the program and how Rutherford residents can participate.
TIR: Are you both the founders of Adopt a Business Program in Rutherford?
Alcides Aguasvivas: Yes. Barry brought the idea from Morristown and needed help developing it so I decided to have my agency, Pix-l Graphx, work on the project to help the community. We also had Sami Abuauad help by providing photography for the website.
Barry Goffin: I have a store in Morristown and volunteers in that community started this Adopt a Business Program there and it was wildly successful. One Italian restaurant received $25,000 in donations. Over the years, Morristown and Rutherford have traded ideas back and forth. Over the last eleven months, there were Facebook posts through which people were asking how they could financially support the businesses. This Adopt a Business Program enables people to donate directly to the businesses of their choice and 100% of the money goes to what the owner needs to spend it on, such as rent, cost of goods, payroll, utilities, etc. Local businesses have often felt like setting up GoFundMe pages was like begging, but with this program, it is all for one and one for all. We are all in this together.
TIR: Why did you decide to create the Adopt a Business Program?
AA: Like many of us have done this past year, I think we are looking for ways to help the businesses in town. Without the businesses, there is no community. There are only so many times you may want to order food at one location, but this program allows you to help all businesses in town.
BG: I have zero technological expertise. Alcides created my store website and handles my ad campaigns. He has a big heart so I asked if he would help me with this program. He probably did not realize how big this job was going to be (laughs).
TIR: With the winter season upon us, how are local businesses affected?
AA: We saw it this week with the snowstorm. During the winter, businesses are more susceptible to being shut down. To begin it's cold, so they can't have outdoor seating and they have limited capacity indoors. Any storm that causes the businesses to close could cost them thousands.
BG: All are affected. None of these businesses can survive as stand-alone stores. We survive together. I have been eating my way through town and I’ve put some weight on (laughs). When people stop by Erie Bakery for a coffee and danish, they will probably walk the Avenue to go to other stores. In the winter especially people are not walking on Park Avenue and there are restrictions on the number of people allowed in stores and restaurants. During Small Business Saturday, we handed out insulated tote bags at 64 Park Boutique to help encourage residents to support the restaurants. We encouraged everyone to take a bag because it is a useful tool for keeping food hot when bringing it home from local restaurants.
TIR: How will the Adopt a Business Program help local businesses?
AA: The program is to help businesses pay for their rent during the winter months. It's great if we buy food or use services in town, but some businesses can't even afford to bring a full staff in. While having a cash boost without labor cost, is a great help for them.
BG: Certain businesses like mine and Jennifer Layne Acupuncture are donating back any donations that are made to our businesses. There is zero cost to businesses to be a part of this program. They just set up a bio and link their account to the GoFundMe page.
TIR: The Borough of Rutherford is also helping promote this program. Why is this partnership so important?
AA: This is extremely important. This only validates this program even more and may also allow residents to feel comfortable with being part of this program.
BG: Although the Borough is not involved in this program, they are supporting the idea and helping us to promote it through their website and social media.
TIR: How can residents and local businesses get involved?
AA: Keep sharing on social media. If they know a business owner who is not online, then call them and let them know about the program. We are all in this together and this project would not work if we all don't do a little work to support it.
BG: Residents can sign up to donate to the businesses on the website (click here). It is very easy for businesses to set up their accounts. There are easy instructions for both residents and businesses. The following email address can be used for questions regarding the program and/or the website: email@example.com.