Many small businesses across the U.S. have closed their doors due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some local small business owners, like husband and wife Cal and Rita Mayberry, owners of Cal’s Urban Wear and Beauty Inc., are still in businesses largely due to a loyal customer base and the humility to accept help.
The Mayberrys consider themselves amongst the lucky. Like many small businesses that were able to withstand the hardships of the pandemic, Cal’s received financial support from the funding provided to businesses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Cal’s received a $5,000 grant from the City of Emporia, which they used to purchase PPE and other equipment, like air purifiers.
“We’re pretty fortunate,” Rita said. “This industry really didn’t get hit hard financially by the pandemic. A lot of people became more leery of ordering things directly online and things like that.”
And while they feel fortunate, the last year has not been without its struggles. Cal, who does a fair share of the behind the scenes work at the store, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory condition that obstructs airflow to the lungs. It is one of many pre-existing conditions that would have been amplified by the COVID-19 virus, and therefore he has been forced to keep his distance throughout the pandemic.
“It’s just been more of the anxiety I feel working with the public that I didn’t previously,” Rita said. “It’s been very stressful.”
Cal’s first opened in 2014, after the Mayberry’s saw a demand in the community and decided to take a chance at filling it. They purchased adjacent shop locations on Main Street and joined the two storefronts to better accommodate their customer base. The couple did much of the work themselves, but said they wouldn’t be where they are today without the help of friends who are always helping around the store when it’s needed.
And while surviving a pandemic was a blessing unto itself, the Mayberry’s fortune had not run out just quite yet, though. On April 5, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine chose Cal’s as one of two Emporia businesses to visit on his trip across Southern Virginia. It was a visit that Rita said she couldn’t have imagined.
“We’re honored,” Rita said on April 5, “absolutely excited. I never saw anything like this happening, to have a U.S. senator come to our little store -- a mom and pop operation -- it’s really exciting.”
Cal’s is located at 411 S. Main St. in Emporia. They are open seven days a week, and their hours can be found on their Facebook page, where they hold an impressive 5-star rating.