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Small businesses band together nationwide to save each other

Rick Novak, owner of the Royal Family Bowling Center and Royal Cinemas in the town of Front Royal, Virginia, says the pandemic has been a frustrating time when it comes to how it has affected his businesses. He's hoping people may begin to venture out more, as the vaccine rollout gets underway.
At Royal Cinemas in Front Royal, VA, moviegoers have mostly stayed away since the emergence of COVID-19 last year.
The “Alliance to Save the American Dream" is a nonprofit that helps connect small business owners around the country with each other, to exchange ideas and offer advice on weathering the COVID-19 era.
At the Royal Family Bowling Center in Front Royal, Virginia, business was tough when the pandemic initially began, but has recently improved because of relaxed coronavirus restrictions.
Posted at 12:30 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 12:30:12-05

FRONT ROYAL, Va. — When it comes to bowling, hitting the pins often comes down to skill and, sometimes, a little luck.

“When you're losing money, every dollar that you can bring in helps stretch out the possibility of you making it,” said Rick Novak, owner of the Royal Family Bowling Center, which is nearby Royal Cinemas in the town of Front Royal, Virginia.

The two small businesses require people to survive.

“Initially, it started off very slowly,” Novak said.

The pandemic restrictions initially shut down both businesses, before leading to the more limited numbers allowed recently. He held on to his employees, but it hasn’t been easy.

“I am frustrated at the moment,” he said. “I don't really know what to do exactly, but I know that just this isn't working.”

There are more than 30 million small businesses in America and the pandemic has not been kind to many of them. More than 160,000 small businesses have closed because of COVID-19.

“We were hearing from a lot of small business owners that were struggling and didn't know kind of where their voice was being heard,” said Victor Rogers, who along with several other business partners, stepped in to form the “Alliance to Save the American Dream.”

It’s a nonprofit that through an online portal offers resources and helps to connect small business owners around the country with each other, allowing them to exchange ideas and offer advice on weathering the COVID-19 era.

“We're small businesses helping small businesses,” Rogers said. “There's an old adage that says, ‘You don't follow general who doesn't have scars.’ So, we have kind of experienced our own life experiences and business experiences and we want to share those and what works.”

Among those small business owners who tapped in: Rick Novak.

“They're sharing tips and tricks that others have used,” he said. “I mean, one of the neat things that's come out of all this is that we are all talking to each of her more, even as competitors we're like, ‘Hey, I tried this. You should try it.’”

Novak hopes that with vaccine rollouts, people will begin venturing out more, especially to movie theaters, which are a tough sell right now.

“There are lots of folks that are still frightened,” Novak said. “But I really think that people want to get out of their homes.”