SILVER SPRING, Md. — Some businesses across the DMV have been struggling to keep their doors open during the pandemic.
And as many businesses begin the process of reopening, some owners and employees haven't had an easy transition.
“When the pandemic hit we had to shut down,” Islands Tropical Ice Cream owner Kayla Stone said. “We were already not doing well and then we had to close for about three months. We were backed up on rent, we had to restart our inventory because everything had been in here for about three months, so it was like we didn't have any direction or anywhere to go.”
Stone said her uncle was on the verge of closing the family-owned Caribbean island-flavored ice cream shop for good when she said she had the idea to send a call out to the community to see if they could help them make it through.
The GoFundMe to save the ice cream shop raised more than $33,000.
“He didn't really have faith in it, but it was literally a miracle,” Stone said.
The call for community support also got the attention of another local business owner, Amber Chaney of Chaney Communications.
“I saw a local shop was in trouble and I'm also a small own business, I'm Chaney Communications and we’re re comprised of all women of color,” Chaney said. “When I saw that post, knowing what my company has went through during the pandemic, it really touched me because I thought you know I've lost a lot of work, and I don't want that to happen to any other business. If I can help someone stay open, then I will.”
The two then began working together to put Chaney’s communication skills to work to showcase Stone’s ice cream shop and plan a community event for later this month, free of charge.
“It's just so critical, especially for women of color. We have to reach a hand and help each other. There's no other way,” Chaney said.
“Right now we're doing pretty well, Stone said. “Of course, we want to keep that momentum going so that we can stay open long term.”
The two are planning an all-day ice cream social at the Silver Spring ice cream shop on August 15 and they’re encouraging other local business owners to come be a part of it.
“We just are trying to collaborate, boost this business, keep Islands Tropical Ice Cream cafe open, and also invite other small businesses to come give your card out and buy ice cream,” Chaney said. “Let help each other and really do our best to keep these small businesses afloat. It's so important.”
“If you want to experience Caribbean islands different flavors you should definitely come out and try it,” Stone said. “And also, we are so grateful from the help we got from the community.”