Gym owner: ‘Do you take out a loan’ to keep the business afloat?

Jen and Marcus Wilson are opening True Grit Society
Jen and Marcus Wilson own True Grit Society, a high-intensity interval training gym in LynLake. File photo

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Jen Wilson, co-owner, True Grit Society gym

I looked at all the aid packages coming down for small businesses and the state one doesn’t apply to us because we haven’t been open a year. We’re a month shy. And our employees, who we are still paying because they need the money, they’re considered contractors. So we also wouldn’t get money to pay contractors because they are not considered employees by the state. So we’re kind of screwed on that front. 

Additionally, we don’t want to take out loans, because we don’t know when business will be back. And even if we have to pay, it’s like “What are you agreeing to when you start making money again — if you start making money again?” We have a lot of members who were furloughed or laid off, some of them can’t afford to live here anymore; they’ve had to break their lease and move back home with their parents who don’t live near the gym. There’s a lot going on right now. We don’t even know what’s going to happen.

It’s been a weird couple days trying to figure stuff out. Now it’s settling in. Bills are due and there are a bunch of articles that have come out about, What do you do? Do you take out a loan? Because you don’t know what’s going to happen. There are a lot of businesses preferring to shut because they don’t want to deal with all the financial implications that come with staying open right now. 

That’s the thing with our business: We’ve been operating with no overhead other than day-to-day and monthly expenses. Now to say we might need a loan and pay that back while you’re getting things going, it’s such a Catch-22. It took us 11 months to build up relationships to get 60 members, and now, by no fault of our own, we could lose half of those and have to start from the beginning. We’re down to do that, but in the meantime, it’s tough. 

We have had members who have been trying to pay us. We aren’t accepting any money, but it’s the spirit of it that we appreciate. We would need every person to pay their membership in order to do any damage toward our rent. The spirit of most people is camaraderie.