The Restore Retail grant program assists eligible businesses with grants up to $25,000 based on square footage. The program was designed to assist small storefront businesses struggling to catch up on deferred rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the program opened in 2021, Prince William County Department of Economic Development through the Prince William County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has awarded more than $5 million to more than 350 Prince William County small businesses.
Many different types of businesses benefited from these Restore Retail grants in various ways. As the program draws to a close, here is a round-up of some of the businesses who received grants in 2022:
After retiring from the U.S. Army, Donya Dugan planned to launch a Stemtree franchise to inspire children of all ages to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But then the COVID-19 pandemic turned everything upside down, and Dugan had to go back into the Army.
She finally opened her Stemtree at Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge in October 2020. After applying for more than 30 grants since opening, Stemtree received the Restore Retail grant from Prince William County. The Restore Retail grant was just enough to keep Stemtree current with their rent, so that they could gain more even financial footing.
The initial opening of ZavaZone at Potomac Mills was delayed due to the pandemic. Not only was the lockdown in place, but several of the construction crew members contracted COVID-19, so the delays continued. After finally opening in December 2020, things were tough until summer of 2021, when business was starting to pick up. Then the delta variant hit, followed by the omicron wave. Because of the constantly changing pandemic landscape, they had to continually revise their expectations of sales and memberships.
The grants ZavaZone received kept them going through the different waves of COVID-19, and now Eitzel and his team look forward to introducing more people to the adventures that await at ZavaZone.
McKay’s Used Books will celebrate 25 years in Manassas next year. Like nearly all small businesses, they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. After being closed completely for about six weeks in 2020, they reopened with a system for people to request a search for books or media, as well as grab bags—which were popular—for purchase and curbside pickup. However, this only matched about one percent of McKay's usual revenues.
Earlier this year, they applied for and received the Restore Retail Grant, which allowed them to upgrade their computers and speed up processing times. Like many small businesses, they continue to face economic challenges due to ongoing inflation. But they are a good option for people looking to save on books and media like DVD box sets, board games, and puzzles, so they are hoping for a brighter future.
In 2015, Tim Weis opened Campbells Frozen Custard in Lake Ridge, and it quickly became a popular spot in the neighborhood. After years of success in the Lake Ridge location, they were ready to expand and noticed an opportunity in Stonebridge, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the entire expansion idea came to a standstill.
Campbells applied for grants through the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, including the most recent Restore Retail grant. The last thing Weis wanted to do was go into debt or ask for a rent abatement, so these grants helped Campbells stay financially afloat.
The Stonebridge location opened its doors on June 30, so Campbells is currently churning out delicious cups, cones, shakes, malts, banana splits, and sundaes at both their Lake Ridge and Stonebridge locations.
The Running Store has been an independently operated shoe store since it opened in November 2007. Like many retailers, The Running Store was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but then people started running and walking more. During the worst of the pandemic, they were reduced to 10 people or less in the store, but they were allowed to be open.
The Restore Retail Grant helped the team invest in better technology and update the business’ website. 2020 was the worst year that they had ever had, but then 2021 turned out to be the best year that they had ever had.