Albert Lea businesses persevere through pandemic |

Albert Lea businesses persevere through pandemic

Rachel Mills
Updated: March 24, 2021 10:37 PM
Created: March 24, 2021 09:02 PM

(ABC 6 News) - "Coming back now after about a year. We were shut down in December again so about four months now. So we're down about 25% of our memberships here at Snap Fitness, so that's a huge hit to us financially," Joe Tscholl, owner of Snap Fitness, said.  

Following Gov. Tim Walz's orders, Snap Fitness in Albert Lea was closed for four months last year, and Tscholl said they basically just coasted through.

"Pretty much, I mean nobody could be in here, so we didn't gather any income at all for four months, so that was a tremendous loss. Our bank, PPP we got, loans like that, again, saved us," Tscholl said. 

Tscholl, who owns the gym with his wife, said losing his business would have been a major hit.

"I mean that's our life, that's our family. We have three boys and we put our heart and soul into this business. So yeah, it would be devastating, and we'd be looking for employment someplace else I guess," Tscholl said. 

But it wouldn't just be a loss for them. Albert Lea would be losing something as well.

"We were just thankful that we were able to be open for people's physical and mental health - really is key," Tscholl said.

While Snap Fitness works your body, the Freeborn County Historical Museum works your mind.

"So overall, we lost 65% of our budget, our income. Thankfully, there are some grants available so we are able to recoup some of that, but the bulk of it was just a total loss for us," Stephanie Kibler, the museum's executive director, said.  

Kibler said, for her, a lot was at stake.

"I think about our volunteers. We have so many solid volunteers. They have been so loyal and I guess for the community, the resources we have here. Whether it be for research, whether you're coming here with your child for a history project. School tours. The resources we have here that tie into how this community came to be. I think it would be devastating for many within Freeborn county to not have that," Kibler said.

The museum staff spent the time in shutdown updating some of the older displays, according to Kibler. 

"It has allowed us to really dig in and make a lot of fo progress, so we've installed or revamped more than 25 exhibits in our museum and village, which is something we wouldn't be able to do if we had people coming through," Kibler said.   

Kibler said she's glad she had the community to get through it all. 

"The community as a whole I think is incredibly supportive of one another. I see, from a history perspective, innovative business leaders coming out who have totally changed their business plans," Kibler said.  

Kibler also said she made sure to support other local businesses herself.

"Almost weekly, I would order food in and that was me personally to make sure that number one, my staff felt supported, but also that my community partners felt supported. I think there's ways we all supported each other and hopefully, we didn't lose too much," Kibler said.  

Many business owners, including Kibler, see a brighter future for Albert Lea.

"I see this community is going to come out of this with a few bruises and scrapes, but I think it's going to be stronger just because we've been building those partnerships," Kibler said. 

The Albert Lea redevelopment leader, Phillip Johnson, said he will most likely take a survey of the businesses to find out what they need now moving forward.

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