Fairfield Grants Give Small Businesses A ‘Bit More Confidence’

FAIRFIELD, CT — When the coronavirus pandemic reached Connecticut in March, it caught Lattice House on unawares.

With no website and all non-essential retailers in Connecticut closed, the Southport shop ended up running the business off its Instagram account. Now, with a little help from the town’s COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program, Lattice House is investing in a website, a digital advertising campaign and an expanded social media presence.

“If there is another shutdown, we’ll be in a much better position,” owner Chris Philip said.

Since Fairfield’s small business grant program started in June, it has committed $188,000 to 52 applicants, including retail establishments, restaurants, salons and more. The program provides direct financial assistance to Fairfield businesses with five or fewer employees that have been affected by the pandemic.

“The vast majority are brick-and-mortar-type businesses,” Community & Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said.

As of last week, about $62,000 in grants were still available, according to Barnhart. The funds, provided by the federal CARES Act, have been used by recipients to pay for expenses such as rent, utilities, equipment, e-commerce and safety-related modifications.

“We are still accepting applications,” he said.

Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000, and average about $3,500, which is the amount Lattice House received.

“It was extremely helpful because it allowed us to move forward with a little bit more confidence,” said Philip, whose store at 411 Pequot Ave. sells home and garden accessories and décor, among other items.

When Lattice House reopened in May, business was slow, but it has since picked up, and the shop saw the best August it has had since opening four years ago.

“There is a tremendous amount of new people moving into Southport, and they’re out shopping and learning the stores,” Philip said, adding he is committed to staying in Southport and stocking products made by small Connecticut companies. “… We are an established brand and I think people are making a concerted effort to support us and support local.”

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