Business

Foodie Magoo's ribbon cutting at the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

It was a challenging year for small businesses across the Santa Cruz Valley after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered doors and kept customers at home starting in March.

According to Second Street Lab, the following businesses spent less on marketing: photographers, tourist attractions, building maintenance services, trucking, gyms, casinos, hotels and motels, theaters, museums, sports clubs, car rentals and florists.

But some industries and businesses thrived amid the overall economic downturn.

Second Street found increased marketing expenditures among HVAC installers, mental health services, computer services, financial services, real estate, medical facilities, pest control, legal services, home health care, religious organizations, banks and telecommunications.

And top 10 advertiser growth? Drugstores and pharmacies, food delivery, grocery stores, home improvement stores, legal services, mortgage companies, telemedicine, wealth managers, wine and liquor stores and banks and credit unions.

Food delivery

Sahuarita-grown food delivery service Foodie Magoo's started in June and quickly added 15 restaurants the following month to its list of places patrons could order take-out.

In December, owner Erik Scholl said the service had 25 restaurants and has an on-demand service that would courier food from any location.

Foodie Magoo's also filled in other needs during the pandemic. Scholl said they offer grocery, alcohol and prescription delivery.

In December, he started working on expanding into Rio Rico.

Foodie Magoo's started with two employees and now has six. Scholl plans to add three more once he opens his service in Rio Rico.

Depending on the day of the week, Foodie Magoo's is knocking out 20-50 deliveries per day.

Scholl is also looking into providing a taxi service. But he said it's still further down the road as there are permitting requirements to sort out.

Scholl said starting the business in the middle of the pandemic was scary but felt like they've found their rhythm.

"We're having record sales almost every other week; we're doing better sales, more orders," he said. "Just naturally with the word getting out. It just takes a little time for everybody to get to know us."

Home improvement stores

Green Valley Village's Ace Hardware owner Mike McAuliffe said the pandemic didn't slow his store down. He said sales had grown every year since he bought the location 14 years ago, and 2020 was no exception.

He found more people were doing home projects, which kept sales up. But he said there were fewer people in town during the pandemic. A combination he thought balanced things out.

While sales remained steady, he found the only challenges were keeping up with county safety guidelines and balancing staff to meet those demands.

With entrances on opposite sides of the store, McAuliffe had to lock one side at times when short-staffed.

He said the move was necessary to keep an employee near the door to clean handles and carts and ensure mask compliance when people entered.

5 Legal services

Attorney Peter Schmerl said 2020 was the busiest in his 25 years in Green Valley.

"Probably different legal sectors may have experienced different issues, I suppose," Schmerl said. "But what we do here, wills and trusts and administration of estates, I'm busier than I ever have been."

Schmerl found the increased business a double-edged sword because it often comes with someone's loss or suffering.

"But this is what we do here," he said. "I assist people with end-of-life issues."

But if there's a silver lining, Schmerl said it's the many other clients who remain healthy but were motivated by the pandemic to get their affairs in order.

Schmerl switched about 90 percent of his client meetings to online and telephonic sessions because of COVID-19. And the loss of in-person service, except for document signing, had increased the overall process' time.