How Prestamos and the PPP brought a different tune to this local coffee house.
From restaurants, museums, bars, and coffee shops, the downtown Phoenix area has become a coveted spot for entrepreneurs seeking to set up shop. For Erin Westgate, the downtown area meant more than just a hip and trendy neighborhood to open the doors of her coffee shop. After having worked as a barista for many years, Erin dreamed of owning her own place. For her, coffee was more than just a “wake me up” beverage. She was enamored by how coffee and a cozy establishment helped bring people together in a safe and inviting space.
In 2012, she took a leap of faith, and Songbird Coffee and Tea House became a reality. Named after a bible verse that speaks to never having to go through anything alone, Erin keeps that mission ingrained in her daily operations. Her goal was to create a space where people could gather and exchange ideas, somewhere where people could be their authentic selves and always have a place to belong.
This mission lives through what patrons experience once they walk through the front door of Songbird Coffee and Tea House. Smelling the inviting aromas of a cappuccino or the whirling noise of a coffee grinder, the walls of Songbird tell the story of the neighborhood. On the walls on any given day, you can find art and photographs, or maybe sculptures adorning your surroundings. Songbird is a place where local artists and diversity are celebrated. For Erin, her biggest joy comes in, bringing the community together through art and coffee.
Having experienced the uptick of the downtown area, Erin has been part of the community ever since it became a hotbed for small, local businesses. At the start of 2020, Songbird was pacing to gain a 10% increase in sales from the year prior. This meant that as the coffee house was experiencing growth, Erin was ready to make some needed changes to her space and add additional staff. Looking to update the landscaping at the front of the coffee house and add seating, she was also excited to make the space ADA accessible as it is in a historic converted house. Erin was also ready to add a person to her staff, bringing her tight-knit group to a total of five employees.
As the hustle and bustle of the area came to a sudden halt due to COVID-19, businesses in the areas began to shut down operations, and Songbird was one of them. From one day to the other, Erin’s dream coffee house began to shatter. With reduced hours of operation and a 60% decrease in sales from the previous years, Erin and her employees were facing devastating emotional and financial hardships.
As the pandemic continued, a light at the end of a dim tunnel turned on. The rollout of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) from the SBA was just what Erin and thousands of other small business owners across the country needed to stay afloat. As the funds and guidelines became available, she was quick to apply through the financial institution she had been doing business with for years. The process was long and confusing, but she managed to get through it. Just as she was almost through with the process, she received her first and only communication from the bank – the funds had run out.
Erin was confused, frustrated, and scared. She was unsure of what this meant for the future of her business, her lively hood, and her staff. As she continued to search for resources and other avenues, Erin came across a post on social media by Local First Arizona talking about Prestamos CDFI, and how they were assisting in the loan application for the PPP. She immediately reached out and began the application. “It was a dramatic difference in the process,” says Erin. “I felt cared about and received an immediate response. There was constant communication, and I always knew where I stood in the process.”.
As she received notification of her approval for the PPP, Erin felt a weight she had been carrying around for months. The funding from the PPP provided her the opportunity to start-up operations once more. Through the PPP, Erin was able to keep her staff employed and even bring on the additional employee she was looking to hire before the shutdown. While the future still feels a little scary, the PPP and Prestamos have made an impact and given her the time to plan for the future properly.
“Prestamos made a difference for Songbird Coffee and Tea House because they are invested in our community.”, says Erin.
At Prestamos, our goal is for businesses to thrive, grow, and succeed in every aspect of their operation. We understand that owning a business takes courage, time, and motivation – we provide our clients with excellent customer service and guidance in areas they need it most. The team at Prestamos is proud to work with Songbird Coffee and Tea House and the hundreds of other small businesses in our communities that drive and keep our economy afloat.
Local businesses are the economic engine of our cities and towns. With this understanding, our team recognizes that loans and funding are just part of what needs to be done to help. Helping small local businesses with funding is only a part of what we do. Our variety of loan products also come with free business consulting programs to help companies grow and succeed.