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Invest in Small Business Resiliency

Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, the backbone of our communities, and they're working hard to recover from hardships left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic. With small businesses being America's largest employer, this unprecedented hardship puts millions of employees at risk, directly impacting the livelihood of families and communities across the country. 
 
GSBA and Comcast Washington co-created the Ready for Business Fund in 2020 to support small businesses. This spring, we're proud to return with our third round of funding, issuing $2,500 cash grants and support services to over 85 small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ community members; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women - in addition to businesses located in rural areas across Washington State.

Donate below to help us reach even more small businesses in need.

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By making a donation to the Ready for Business Fund, you are directly empowering small business owners and strengthening your community. Donations of any size can make a difference for small business owners in addressing fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, and other working capital expenses that could have been remedied sooner if that COVID-19 pandemic not occurred.

Join the challenge and become a Ready for Business donor to strengthen the economic recovery for small and minority-owned businesses. Twenty percent of funds raised will be used for wrap-around services from GSBA including consulting, advertising, and membership for recipients, as well as administration of the grants.

For more information contact GSBA Deputy Director Ilona Lohrey (She/her) or call the office at 206-363-9188.


Apply for Small Business Relief

The application period for the third round of the Ready for Business Fund will open on Monday, June 13. Check back here then to apply for funding!

Too often, systemic barriers get in the way of people from marginalized backgrounds making their entrepreneurial dreams come true and establishing sustainable income for themselves, their families, and their communities. This can look like lacking capital investment, the reverberating impact of generational poverty, environmental factors, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic brought so many of these disparities front and center for small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women. The Ready for Business Fund was established to help level the playing field for these communities, giving them a small boost so they can strengthen their business, give back to our local economies, and provide for themselves and their families.

Businesses who are selected for a grant from the Ready for Business Fund receive a $2,500 cash grant and wrap-around support services including GSBA membership, technical support, marketing, and consulting. This grant does not have to be repaid, and it can be used for any purpose to help the business in its resiliency. 

Priority will be given to small businesses within the communities who historically have less impact to resources through entrepreneurship and are impacted by systemic barriers, including those owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women, as well as businesses located in rural areas.

Watch the video below to hear more about Ready for Business

RFB Video for web


Meet some of our Ready for Business Fund recipients!

What do burgers and Dolly Parton have in common?

by GSBA Staff
| Mar 12, 2021

Meet Two Doors Down, GSBA Member and Ready for Business grant recipient

Two Doors Down is a family-friendly beer and burger bar with two locations. One with five years under its belt and the other scheduled to open in Pioneer Square on April 1, 2020, just a few weeks after the onset of the pandemic. We asked Ready for Business grant recipient Erin Nestor, co-owner of Two Doors Down and The BottleNeck Lounge, some questions about her history as a small business owner, her motivation this past year, and that intriguing Dolly Parton question.

Two Doors Down Madison Tap Wall[2]GSBA: What year did you open Two Doors Down? And what’s the origin of the name?

Erin: We opened in August of 2015 and were truly at a loss for the name. A good friend suggested Two Doors Down because the space itself is located just two doors down from The BottleNeck Lounge. However, the name also references the Dolly Parton song by the same title, wherein folks are “laughing and drinking and have a party just two doors down.” At the same time, poor Dolly is at home shedding “useless tears” of loneliness. We took things one step further and named our holding company Useless Tears LLC because any restaurant owner knows that tears have no place in this industry.

GSBA: Why burgers?

Erin: The immediate neighborhood lacked a casual restaurant, and burgers seemed a perfect choice – the price point is affordable, and burgers can be easily adapted to the customer's taste. We intentionally focus on both the vegetarian and gluten-free audiences – most don’t realize that our deep fryers are dedicated gluten-free – and we promote plant-based alternatives alongside our hormone antibiotic-free beef products. From day one, the neighborhood let it be known that they are here for the burgers, though everyone does seem to appreciate our curated tap selection.

GSBA: This is not your first (or your second) business. Have you always wanted to be a business owner?

Erin and Rebecca[2]Erin: I worked in advertising and non-profit arts administration until I was forty. Although I always touted my desire to own a bar (usually while sitting at one), it was truly nothing more than fantasy. But then I found myself out of a job and couldn’t bear the thought of returning to the nine-to-five routine, so with the strong support of my wife, I took the plunge into the hospitality industry. Fourteen years and four establishments later, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except for perhaps this past year – this past year has been tough.

GSBA: You opened a second location during the pandemic. Many would call this a brave and bold move. Did you consider not moving forward, or was that not an option?

Erin: Oh, it wasn’t bold – I just ran out of road. We purchased an existing business in mid-January of 2020, sank thousands of dollars into the renovation, and were on schedule to open April 1, but the pandemic hit, and all hell broke loose. Opening budgets always have wiggle room for setbacks, but I was not prepared to pay rent and the fixed costs associated with the second space (including a loan) in what appeared-to-be perpetuity. For months, Pioneer Square was a ghost town – there weren’t even cars on the street – but we opened in August nonetheless hoping that some revenue – any revenue – would save us from going under. Thankfully the strong support we’ve experienced at the Madison location has helped cover some costs while the Pioneer Square workforce slowly returns to the office spaces. It’s been a harrowing ordeal.

GSBA: How have you pivoted your businesses to meet the challenges and obstacles brought on by the pandemic?

IMG_9506_edit.0Erin: Generally speaking, we’ve gone from being a community-based third space to a hamburger delivery operation. We’ve reduced our hours, created and implemented an online ordering system, adapted to running our product out to cars waiting curbside, and spent countless hours honing our relationship with third party-delivery platforms, which require no shortage of management. The interior of the restaurants have been adapted to meet the challenges of the times: plexiglass encased booths, contactless payment systems, and the elimination of stools and some tables. It’s an entirely different way of doing business, and all of the restaurants and bars in Seattle have suffered for it.

GSBA: How has being a Ready for Business grant recipient helped you and your business?

cold beer[2]

Erin: The grant has literally helped defray the costs associated with operating a to-go only business. The expense was unforeseen and continues as demand for specific items exceeds supply. For example, one year ago, latex gloves cost $55 a case, and today that same case costs $147 – the price increase is staggering. However, the Ready for Business grant carries with it more than financial assistance and access to resources. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I’ve always actively catered to my community. Though I no longer see my people in the seats at my restaurant, it’s nice to know that my community is still here. It means a lot.

GSBA: These days, what keeps you motivated?

Erin: Hope that this will end motivates me, as does the enduring support of my family and friends; they’ve been spectacular. Our customers motivate me. They show up weekly, filling their growlers and buying burgers to go -- some tip the staff so generously it makes me tear up. But I think my team motivates me the most. They show up day-in and day-out, though the rules of engagement have changed, and their job responsibilities have all shifted. I had to lay off about ten people this time last year, and it was devastating. I feel a real responsibility to bring the people I have left through this.


Two Doors Down's flagship location is located at 2332 E. Madison, next door to The Bottleneck Lounge, . Pickup and delivery options are available on UberEats, DoorDash, Caviar, and Square. Two Doors Down's second location, 200 S. Jackson St, is open Tuesday through Saturday.