Helping Out Our Local Businesses


OutLoud Promotions designs promotional products designed to elevate brands and engage audiences, via trade show giveaways, custom apparel, online company stores, and more. Photo courtesy of Mark Waldorf

As we continue to adjust to the coronavirus and work to curb its spread, many local businesses are facing unforeseen challenges as a result. We spoke with three Twin Cities businesses to check in and see how the public can continue to help them out in this difficult time.

OutLoud Promotions

For Mark Waldorf, president of the full-service branded merchandise company OutLoud Promotions, the COVID-19 crisis has been cause for concern and challenges, as it has for many other small businesses.

Not knowing where this crisis might lead us is concerning not only for the survival of our business, but also for the livelihood of our employees and their families,” said Waldorf. “We’ve had to make some difficult decisions, and also change direction and develop some creative solutions that can help our clients’ businesses in the short term. For example, we are offering products to our clients and their employees that will help during the Shelter-in-Place order that is in effect, such as ‘work from home’ kits.  These kits provide various office- and business-related products that can help employees be more productive and have the tools needed to work remotely.”

Certified as a GLBT business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, OutLoud designs promotional products designed to elevate brands and engage audiences, via trade show giveaways, custom apparel, online company stores, and more.

“We are still open for business but we are working remotely,” said Waldorf. “We are lucky to have a team that is resilient and creative. They understand how unique and difficult this situation is, and are willing to help in any way that they can. For our clients’ online company stores, they have been notified that we are still accepting orders online, and that we will fulfill their orders once we are allowed to have our warehouse open.”

“We understand that some businesses are cutting expenses right now, and we can relate as we’ve had to do the same,” Waldorf continued. “Promotional products are an affordable and effective method of advertising that helps spread the word about your business or brand.  We hope that our products can help support your businesses during this difficult and uncertain time.  Give us a shout at [email protected].  We would be honored to be your new partner in growing your business.”


Spectacle Shoppe has been providing comprehensive eye exams and contact lens fittings utilizing state-of-the-art tech since 1977. Photo by Amy Jeanchaiyaphum

Spectacle Shoppe

Since 1977, the family-owned Spectacle Shoppe has been providing comprehensive eye exams and contact lens fittings utilizing state-of-the-art tech. COO Beth Ulrich said that the recent pandemic has made operations difficult for the company.

Of our three locations, we are conducting business from our New Brighton location only,” said Ulrich. “We made the choice to close the Uptown and Saint Paul stores for the safety of our employees, our customers and the community.”

Ulrich stated that their doctors are currently not practicing due to CDC guidelines, and the current stay-at-home order means that most customers are not out shopping for eyewear.

“Our New Brighton store is open by appointment between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday,” said Ulrich. “We have one optician and one support staff taking appointments and assisting customers with any eye care needs; from adjustments to repairs. For those in need of new eyewear, our staff is dedicated to practicing enhanced social distancing, best practices for sanitation, and other safety measures as set forth by the CDC. For customers under quarantine, we will mail your glasses.”

2050 Silver Lake Rd. NW
New Brighton

Dean Schlaak of Edina Realty has been a trusted name in buying and selling homes in the Twin Cities for many years. Photo courtesy of Dean Schlaak

Dean Schlaak—Edina Realty and Team HSE

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made life far more difficult for those currently in the market for a new home. Edina Realty’s Dean Schlaak and Team HSE—consisting of himself, Rachael Harvey, and Laura Eastman—are still working hard to help out those looking to buy or sell their homes.

“[We] assist in buying your new home, finding that home in the neighborhood you desire,” said Schlaak. “[We] assist in selling your home, to move up to that next step, or to downsize to a condo to fit with your busy lifestyle.”

Team HSE also offers free market analysis, and are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida. Schlaak said that recently he’s had some of the busiest weeks of his career.

“While life is a bit chaotic with the pandemic, people still need to go about their lives,” he said. “Real estate is about 17 percent of the economy, and the interest rates are incredibly low. Now is the perfect time to buy or at least refinance. The industry has changed with virtual tours, limiting the number of people in homes, no open houses, and we are taking safety precautions to keep everyone safe.”

“The economy was strong before this pandemic, we believe the it should bounce back relatively quick after the stay-at-home order is lifted,” Schlaak continued. “So stay the course: if you had planned on buying in 2020 or 2021, reach out now, we can help with preparation on how to reach your goals. During quarantine, people may have realized that their home didn’t work for them. Let’s start your search today!”


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