Bedford Service, Trades, Business and Events Forum

When life gives you lemons, some folks make lemonade. And there are a few who add a piece of grilled salmon with lemon slices and a lemon meringue pie.

Like local realtor Suzanne Schmuhl Koller, who always seems to be looking for a positive angle. A few days ago, she launched a Facebook group – Bedford Service, Trades, Business and Events Forum — to help local small businesspersons who have modified their practices to ensure social distancing and other limitations caused by the pandemic. There are already more than 500 members in the group.

Koller readily acknowledged that she got the idea from a similar project in Concord. “People are posting ingenious things,” she said. The new group is “awesome for businesses,” she added, especially since some Facebook groups specifically exclude promoting for-profit ventures. “We really needed a forum where it’s perfectly acceptable.”

“It’s really cool because people are putting up things they do. Hopefully, when things open up again, they’ll have a loyal following because of what they’re doing for the community,” Koller said. “There are a lot of beautiful moments coming out of this.”

“Everybody wants to make sure these small businesses are supported,” said Koller, whose real estate office is a member of the Bedford Chamber of Commerce. “Maybe somebody can come up with a new idea based on what they see the need is.”

Here are some examples of small-business announcements on the new Facebook group:

  • Laura MacLeod, who works for the Barre3 fitness studio: “We are doing online classes both for free on Instagram Live and Zoom live classes. Instagram classes include 10-minute stretch and breathe; Zoom classes are 45 or 60 minutes and are fun because you can see others taking the class.”
  • Rich Callahan: Callahan’s Karate, like many other businesses, has moved to live online classes. We will continue to operate this way as long as Bedford public schools are closed.
  • Christine Hrissanthou Wilson: “I am a small fine gardening business here in Bedford called The Duchess of Dirt. All of our work is outdoors, and it’s really easy to keep our distance. Plus the fresh air and sun make us feel better. Everyone will be driving their own vehicle to the job and everyone has been assigned their own tools. We will be hiring over the next few
  • Suzanne Stuzynski: In my full-time life, I am a Cardiac ICU nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital and a busy mom. On the side, I am a small business owner as a consultant for Beautycounter. We are an innovative, clean skincare company leading the way to safe products. I would like to ask five people to nominate a small business owner that you feel would benefit from a little goodie bag of Beautycounter products.
  • Sarah Scoville, School Committee member: “I’m an art teacher and am offering drawing tutoring for children.”
  • Heidi Sullivan: “I have been a fitness professional for 20=plus years. I am currently available for phone or zoom consultations. I will be offering free Zoom group calls as well on ways to stay healthy and vibrant all year long. As a big part of my business is nutrition consultations, I partnered with a nutritional support company last year to add to my services.
  • Paula Sheehy Gilarde: I’m an independent web designer who works primarily with WordPress. Whether it’s web design or creative projects, I thrive on problem-solving. I work mostly with small businesses and non-profits in the area.

Most local food purveyors are part of an online network facilitating takeout orders. The website, was coordinated by the town manager’s office.

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