When COVID-19 restrictions shut down her small business, this single mum worked quickly to lock in a ‘plan b’. It’s paid off for her and her new employer.
Before coronavirus struck, Casey Thompson was happily running her own business, Mobile 7D Cinema, bringing a unique entertainment experience to private parties and corporate events, festivals, schools and vacation care programs.
But social distancing measures and the COVID-19 shutdown forced Casey to close in March.
“As a single mother, and my small business as my only source of income, I had to put a swift plan in place in order to survive. For me, that meant having to apply for work else elsewhere,” she explains.
Fast-forward to the beginning of May and Casey starts in a new role as store manager at Hello Harry Morayfield, a family-owned burger joint facing its own COVID-19 challenges.
“Being able to secure a full-time position during a time when so many have been stood down due to restrictions has been a life saver,” Casey says.
“I was unable to access financial help in the beginning, so I was really concerned what closing my business would mean for the future. Having this job has enabled me to provide for my family as well as keep my business afloat that I have built up over four years since bringing it to life.”
Hello Harry Morayfield owner Stephen Schultz says putting Casey on has been a win-win for both parties.
“Casey is showing me better ways to do business and understand the Hello Harry brand,” Stephen says.
“She’s great, very friendly, approachable and excited to try new things like learning Auslan, which is my first language. I really appreciate her trying to understand me and support me in my business.”
Stephen is the first deaf owner of a Hello Harry store, opening the business in August 2019.
“We loved that it was an Australian-born business, starting in the Sunshine Coast, and I was looking at a second chance at life after working the same job for 35 years prior,” he explains.
It’s been a tough few months made easier by his loyal customers and family who have pitched in to help.
“Our customers have been very supportive. They ring orders in, use the HH ordering app, and still come in to store and sit down when they can. Business has been a bit quieter, but our customers still want to have that treat and support local business,” he says.
He's hoping to return the favour when trading returns to normal.
“My plan is to build the business up once restrictions are lifted and be in a position to be able to offer support to help rebuild local community groups and sporting clubs and help deliver a happy healthy Hello Harry dining experience,” Stephen says.
And Casey will be there to help him make it happen.
“(This) is an opportunity to offer my skills to help the team make operational improvements and really boost their new business through a time that has been somewhat challenging. I have loved my time so far with the team at HH and see a strong future here,” she says.
In a time when locals are yearning to support home-grown businesses, Stephen reckons Hello Harry fits the bill.
“Hello Harry Morayfield is a unique experience because it is Australian-owned and made. We source and use local produce where we can and instil a family atmosphere with our staff as well as our customers,” he explains.
“I am very proud to serve our local community and show people that deaf people can make great burgers too! We are the first deaf owner Hello Harry store which is amazing to be able to serve having some staff on board fluent in Auslan so we can also serve the wider deaf community.”
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