Microgrants awarded to four downtown Chambersburg businesses

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Thanks to the giving spirit of others, four downtown Chambersburg businesses have more money in their coffers to help them recover from business lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

The GivingTuesdayNOW drive on Facebook in early May kicked off a monthlong Downtown Strong: Survive & Thrive Campaign. The funding drive raised more than $1,000, said Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Sam Thrush, who organized the effort. Two individuals, whose identities he chose not to share, wrote checks to bring the total to $1,800.

Seven local businesses applied for the microgrants and four were chosen, based on information provided in their applications about how they were affected by COVID-19. Receiving $450 each were Jasmine’s Beauty Salon at 159 S. Main St.; Main Street Deli at 33 N. Main St.; Sweet Rollers at 115 E. Queen St.; and Webbs Sports Bar at 114 S. Main St.

Salons and barbershops were among the last to be allowed to open in Pennsylvania, Thrush said, so Jasmine’s Beauty Salon experienced the financial pain created by being closed longer than other types of businesses.

Owner Johana Aplicano said her salon was closed for three months and, even after it reopened, fears about coronavirus kept people from coming in, so business was slow. But she still had to pay the rent and other bills, plus she had to buy more cleaning supplies to meet sanitary guidelines for keeping the shop open.

After being denied other loans, Aplicano said she was delighted to receive $450 from DCI.

“I was surprised,” Aplicano said. “It’s a lot (of money) for us. It means a lot.”

Main Street Deli felt similar economic discomfort because a large part of its business is catering, which came to a halt for a few months starting in mid-March, Thrush said.

For establishments like Sweet Rollers, whose business model is focused on fundraising, the height of the pandemic meant work came to a standstill. The business offers cinnamon rolls and coffee as fundraising products for organizations to sell on their own, and also donates a portion of in-store sales to groups designated by the owner.

“Grants like these give small businesses a chance to do things they may not be able to do at this time without it,” said Dyana Zubia, event coordinator and store manager for Sweet Rollers. “It also helps them cover costs that, especially in this time of COVID-19, they might not be able to cover.”

Zubia said DCI’s grant will be used to help with payroll and training new employees.

At the time that Webbs Sports Bar owner Valerie Holman applied for Downtown Chambersburg’s inaugural minigrants, she had been denied funds from other sources, so went months without pay. Her business, which offers bar fare such as hamburgers and chicken wings, closed in March and reopened in May.

After receiving the DCI assistance, she also was awarded money through the federal Community Development Financial Institutions Program.

Webbs can seat 125, but COVID restrictions only allow 32 people in the space at one time.

“It really hurts,” Holman said of the limitations, adding that her business has a small carryout menu.

She said she plans to use the DCI microgrant to do some improvements on the building, including painting.

Raising money to help downtown businesses has been a challenge, but Thrush is thankful to have funds to share.

“I feel good about who we gave it to,” he said of the minigrants. “They’re well-deserved.”

For more information about Downtown Chambersburg Inc., email Thrush at [email protected]g or go to

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