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Alumna, business owner perseveres during COVID-19 pandemic

Kimberly Wilkinson '09Charlotte, N.C. / May 20, 2020 - With the recent global pandemic affecting the country, small businesses have had to re-strategize, re-create and develop concepts of conducting “new normal” business practices. 

Johnson C. Smith University alumna and Charlotte business woman, Kimberly Wilkinson ’09 established Members Only, a private social lounge and tasting room, in November 2019. The establishment serves craft cocktails and craft beer, provides a relaxing ambiance and it has a swing.

It’s May and the weather is nice.  Many businesses are gearing up to open their venues to customers. To ensure North Carolinians' safety, Governor Roy Cooper has established a plan for opening back up the economy. In phase one, bars and restaurants are only open for take-out and delivery. 

The pandemic has affected the small business owner’s revenue dramatically. “It has completely shut down the cocktail bar, because it’s non-essential.  There’s a complete loss in revenue and because Members Only has only been operating for a little over four months, it doesn’t meet the guidelines to qualify for stimulus money,” said Wilkinson.   

The business marketing graduate always had the desire to own a business. With the assistance of Dr. Linette Fox, assistant professor of management and Dr. Sutton, Wilkinson developed marketing plans to jumpstart her dreams. 

I attended JCSU to focus on business and graduate. The faculty and staff provided so much support,” said Wilkinson.  “I constantly felt like I was being rooted for and they wanted me to succeed,” she continued.

Utilizing the resources and tools gained at JCSU helped her to launch her entrepreneurial career. She created a business plan and emailed it to the 3100 N. Davidson Street property owner and launched a brick and mortar clothing boutique named after her grandmother, VIVIAN B in Charlotte’s North Davidson (NoDA) neighborhood in November 2010. The NoDA area is known for its artsy buildings, great food and unique small businesses. 
Wilkinson knew that this was the place for her. With great success in the clothing business, she saw a need for healthy living and decided to switch lanes and turn the space from a boutique into a juice bar named Juice Box. The business has been operating for just a little over three and a half years. The pandemic has affected Juice Box’s revenue as well. 

“Juice Box sales are down 50 to 60 percent. We are open for grab and go orders,” she said.

Wilkinson sees a light at the end of the tunnel. She continues to evolve, despite the current circumstances. “My biggest accomplishment is my perseverance,” she said. “Being able to adapt with the changes in the market, grow, and continually create in my entrepreneurial space is a blessing.”
To abide by the social distancing practice, she encourages guests to order over the phone for pick up or through delivery partners, Postmates and Uber Eats. 

If you are looking to support her business, please stop in for grab and go orders and follow her on Instagram @members.only_clt and @juiceboxcharlotte. Continue to keep her on the radar, so that when the city is open to normal business operations, everyone can come and enjoy a social scene. 

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