How an historical events space is surviving pandemic economy

Small businesses took the hardest hits when the pandemic struck. We’ve seen the signs on doors from neighborhood shops that tell us that businesses are closed. According to a recent economic impact report, 60 percent of businesses that shut down during the pandemic won’t re-open. 

But some businesses are surviving by reinventing what they offer. 

The Trolley Barn, nestled in the Inman Park community, is a former depot for Atlanta’s electric streetcar system. It was designed in 1880, so it’s seen great times and rough times. And rebirth, many times.   

"I think we’ve been able to think about ourselves in a different way than we ever have before," Lisa Milko, The Trolley Barn's executive director, told the Fox 5 I-Team. 


Reimagining how to operate was not on the 2020 events calendar. Weddings and parties were, but a pandemic was not. This tightly budgeted, non-profit is surviving by adapting. 

"They’ve used the great outdoor space to host a candlelight concert series which has helped our revenue a bit for 2020," Ms. Milko told us from the garden. 

They’ve sorted out how to get people together safely when quite frankly crowds  are not top of list. 

"We saw a huge need for an outside space that was functional and necessary, Covid tests twice a week for CORE for 22 weeks and still going." 

And flu shots and blood drives shot up in the green space, too.  

Reinvention has kept the doors open. And keeping events outdoors has actually been a money saver.

"Not hosting events inside has helped with utilities, with paying people we have on staff to stay for events. And luckily, being a non profit we’ve been real conservative in our budget."

Being nimble and quick to adapt was imperative. And this has another unexpected change for the outlook for 2021.

"In the business of wedding seasons, I don’t fill the patio from 8-2 on a Tuesday."

But now they have ideas about how to do it - adding extra income - even when bar mitzvahs are back. The Trolley Barn, once was a high-tech nugget in this garden district. And this old neighborhood gem? Well, she’s still a place for what’s emerging, said Lisa Milko.  

"I’m encouraged that CORE is going to be adding vaccines at some point. And I hopeful we are part of that vaccine site roll out."

If your business is struggling to survive in this pandemic economy, reach out to the Small Business Administration for guidance from mentors.

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