Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Solera, a Shrine to Wine

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Maria Cecilia Valencia of Solera, Shrine to Wine

Written interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.

Solera – A Shrine To Wine, whose tagline is “Where Good Wines and Craft Beers Meet Expertise” first opened on Corinth Street back in 2000. Owner Maria Cecilia Valencia, originally from Colombia, South America, having recently purchased a home in the neighborhood, saw the revitalization of Roslindale Village as an opportunity to launch her dream to, in her words, “create a place for wine lovers where they could come in, feel comfortable browsing around and asking questions, and give people the opportunity to purchase quality wines without breaking the bank”. After operating for 11 years on Corinth Street, Solera moved around the corner to its current location at 16 Birch Street.

Winner of several awards, including Boston Magazine’s 2016 “Best of Boston” distinction and the Boston Phoenix’s 2001  “Best Mini-Wine Boutique in Boston”, Solera boasts nearly 500 selections of wine from all over the world along with a smaller selection of local craft beers. Maria prides herself on the high level of expertise, wine education, and personalized customer service which has earned her staff accolades from the presses and the designation of “well versed grape talkers”.

Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary, Solera finds itself at a crossroads.  Maria has not escaped the devastation that COVID-19 has wrought on small businesses everywhere. While Solera is exempt from the mandated State closure of “non-essential” businesses, Maria has been forced to cut back on her hours and limit the number of people allowed inside the store in order to observe “social distancing” requirements. However, the dramatic drop off in foot traffic from the closure of neighboring businesses and the stay-at-home advisories issued by the City and State has resulted in a drop of more than 25% of the shrine’s revenue. Fortunately, Solera has been able to stay afloat during this crisis thanks to their small base of loyal customers, but Maria fears that they will not be able to sustain the business in the event of a prolonged general economic shutdown. 

Given that protecting the health and safety of her staff and customers is her top priority, Maria is considering a temporary closure of Solera after Easter Sunday until the COVID-19 crisis eases and financial relief from the stimulus program is received. Without an immediate and substantial infusion of funds, Solera will have a difficult time ordering inventory, paying the staff, and meeting their monthly operating expenses.

Maria noted that even without COVID-19, operating a small wine business is extremely difficult. “People want convenience,” she noted. “It’s much easier to drive to a big supermarket with a liquor license where they have plenty of parking, long hours, and one-stop shopping where you can get beer and wine along with your groceries and everything else.” 

While Roslindale is noted for its superb restaurants, they must order their liquor from authorized distributors, which means that Solera cannot realize the economic benefits of partnering with the local restaurants for their beer and wine needs.

However, Maria is going all out to fulfill customers’ needs for the upcoming holiday. Solera offers a “First of the Month” discount where shoppers can get 10% off orders of a case of 6-11 wine bottles and 15% off a case of 12 or more.  Shoppers can take advantage of this discount between the hours of 2-6 p.m. this Friday 4/3 and Saturday 4/4. In addition, Maria is pleased to announce that Solera will be extending this promotion to next Friday (4/10) and Saturday (4/11) between the hours of 1-6 p.m. for Easter. Please call the store or check Solera’s web site https://solerashrinetowine.com or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Solera-A-Shrine-to-Wine-165848490121168/  for any possible changes to this schedule. Solera will be closed Sunday (4/5) through Thursday (4/9).

While walk-ins are welcome, please note that only two customers will be allowed inside the store at a time due to the health emergency. So please call ahead of time, and be sure to check Solera’s web site to confirm their hours of operation for Easter weekend.

You can call in your order to 617-469-4005 or e-mail your request to solerawines@verizon.net.  Maria’s staff will get your order ready with as little as a half hour notice for you to pick up during Solera’s posted hours.

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: The Arredondo Family Foundation

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Mélida Arredondo of The Arredondo Family Foundation

Written interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.

Along with our local businesses, Roslindale’s many non-profit organizations are suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the prolonged restrictions it has imposed on public life. One of those organizations is the Arredondo Family Foundation, located on the second floor of 4258 Washington Street in the Parkway Building. 

Founded in 2015 by Roslindale residents Carlos and Mélida Arredondo following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Foundation’s mission, as stated on their web site is, “to empower the Veterans’ community including military families and friends in the prevention of military related suicides and to provide support through education and services. The Foundation also provides suicide prevention training to the community at large and has recently started providing suicide prevention and support services to Spanish-speaking communities.”

In addition to organizing community suicide prevention training programs and personalized youth mental health first aid, the Foundation’s work includes funding the Arredondo Brothers Memorial Scholarships for military siblings, procuring and delivering groceries to shut-in veterans and military families, holding an annual 300+ turkey giveaway at Thanksgiving, beautifying Adams Park with flags and posters from local schools every Memorial Day, volunteering with the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Division, and many other philanthropic initiatives.

Co-founder Mélida Arredondo said that the postponement of the Boston Marathon due to the health emergency is having a devastating effect on the Foundation’s ability to maintain their current staffing levels and programs. “About 60% of our annual budget comes from our dedicated team of sponsored runners who collect donations on behalf of the Arredondo Family Foundation,” Mélida noted in our recent interview.

While she hopes to see most of this revenue realized when the Marathon is finally run on September 14th, the delay is causing serious cash flow challenges to scholarships that are provided to military siblings and children right now, an important ongoing project. To help bridge the gap, the Foundation is applying for funding from the SBA’s Economic Injury Loan program. But even if the loan is approved, it will only provide a fraction of the funds that the Foundation was counting on from the Marathon. And, with an economic downturn expected in the coming months, non-profit organizations such as the Arredondo Family Foundation will not be able to rely on the same level of corporate and local sponsorships they would normally receive. This makes contributions from individuals in the community even more critical.

However, the Foundation is doing everything possible to keep their programs going during the COVID-19 shutdown. Mélida is working hard to transition their signature Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) one-hour suicide prevention training program to an on-line model.  She affirmed: “We expect to have our QPR program on-line in about a week, at which time we will send a notice to Main Street and the community with instructions as to how to sign up.” 

Foundation staff and volunteers will also continue their food shopping and deliveries to veterans and military families most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To help the larger community, the team also plans to head up to the Red Cross to help ease the current severe blood shortage.

They are currently seeking volunteers and drivers to help with their food deliveries.

More information: email melida@arredondofoundation.org, website: https://arredondofoundation.org/ and phone: 617-553-0002.

Boston Main Streets Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

Boston Main Streets Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

April 1, 2020

The impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic have created an economic crisis for the small businesses that are the heart and soul of Boston’s 20 Main Streets districts. More than ever, those small businesses, their owners, and their workers are in need of our support to manage through this crisis.

To assist in this challenging time, the Boston Main Streets Foundation (BMSF) has established a $100,000 COVID-19 Response Fund for small businesses in need. Crowdsourcing efforts with Patronicity will raise additional funds above this base contribution in an effort to reach as many small businesses as possible. This fund will distribute $1,000 grants to individual businesses with the following conditions:

1) Businesses with ten or fewer employees showing financial need amidst this economic crisis
[Preference given to businesses with 5 or fewer employees]

2) Business must be located in a Boston Main Streets district

3) Businesses that are “sole proprietors” are encouraged to apply

4) Businesses based in face-to-face/in person contact
[Example: salons, barber shops, retailers with little or no online sales, etc.]

5) Businesses that fall into the following categories: services, dry goods, and other “non-essential” retail businesses [While the BMSF wishes to support all businesses in need, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is not currently targeted to bars and restaurants, as there are other emergency funds targeting those sectors such as the Boston Restaurant Strong Fund. Additional resources for small businesses can be found on the City of Boston’s Economic Development website.]

6) There is no reporting requirement for these grants

7) Grants can be used to pay employees or pay the business owner/manager themselves; pay business rent and/or utilities; buy for inventory /goods to resell; pay other business expenses

8) Businesses with an “Immigration Tax ID Number” are fully eligible

The application for small businesses to apply for funding goes live on April 1, 2020, with a preliminary application deadline of April 10, 2020. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after April 10 if funds remain available.

All small businesses selected for grants will be required to provide a W9 as a prerequisite of their funding.

In these unprecedented times, the BMSF is striving to provide much needed support directly to small local business owners. Please reach out your Boston Main Streets Director (director@roslindale.net) with any questions regarding the COVID-19 Fund or additional City resources.

We’re all here to support you in this time of need.

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: YMAA Boston

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Ben Warner of YMAA Boston

Written interviews and Facebook Live interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.

Maintaining good physical and mental health can be hard when you are self-quarantining at home while fearing the unknowns of the coronavirus.  The physical studio for Yang’s Martial Arts Association of Boston (YMAA) has been closed to in-person classes since March 14, but they are now offering online classes to keep everyone fit.

“It’s important now to support people on a community level,” said Ben Warner of YMAA Boston.

Using Zoom, YMAA is offering four kids’ Kung fu classes and several adult classes in Kung fu, Qigong, meditation, kettlebell, and Tai Chi per week.  Students can view prices and schedules and purchase classes on their website at ymaaboston.com or call or text at 617-363-9622. Students would first need to download Zoom onto their computer or phone to participate in classes, and a password is needed to enter the classes.  Sliding scale payments are also available for those who can’t afford the listed prices.

“Classes are our main sources of income, but we still want to help out those students that can’t afford tuition,” Warner said.  “People are welcome to donate to us and support those students in need by contacting us.”

Luckily, no one at YMAA has been laid off because of the studio closure, as most of them are contract workers.  Many of them have their own private clients or work full-time somewhere else and teach a few classes at YMAA.     

Warner also said the classes are great for parents working from home who need to keep their kids occupied. YMAA’s classes can also be an alternative for adults that need to take their regular exercise indoors.  While Kung fu is known for being a person-to-person contact practice, Warner says there is a lot more to it.

“There is a lot of movement you can do on your own,” Warner said. “You can work on your physical strength, calming the body and mind, and learn how to move in different ways.  We show you how to do all of this in our online classes.”

More information: website: ymaaboston.com; call or text at 617-363-9622; email: info@ymaaboston.com.

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Krupa Insurance

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Jim Nichols of Krupa Insurance

Written interviews and Facebook Live interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.

Even during these uncertain times, having good insurance provides peace of mind.  This is why Krupa Insurance is still doing business on Corinth St, although their doors are closed to walk-in customers.

“I’m trying to limit people coming in, said Jim Nichols of Krupa Insurance.  “But we are still able to support our customers.”

When Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close down until April 7, Nichols was originally going to work from home.  However, his wife was also working from home, and he thought it would be better for both of them if he still worked out of his office with the front door locked.

Nichols has noticed over the last week that as more people are working from home, they have more time to think about and make long-term financial decisions for their families now.  While he hasn’t taken any car accident claims recently – as there are not many people driving now, his customers are buying cars and buying out car leases.  

They are also refinancing homes, and banks are still requesting insurance papers.  Nichols notes that many of these claims were already in the pipeline weeks ago. He says that the claims are not driven by a potential recession, but rather interest rates are so low right now, and people have the time to get their paperwork together to finalize the process.

“We have been able to serve people night and day,” Nichols said. “If they have a question, we are here to answer them.”

And he literally means this.  Nichols said that while he and his wife were watching the popular docuseries, Tiger King, on Netflix last Saturday night at home, someone contacted him about a cracked window.

“The customer was surprised that anyone answered,” he said.  “But, I answered the phone and his questions.”

Like everyone, Nichols wants this pandemic to end soon.  But, in the meantime, Krupa Insurance is available for all your insurance needs.

“We’re here,” Nichols said. “With the magic of email and phones, we’re here to help.”

More information: email krupainsurance@comcast.net, website: krupainsurance.com and phone: 617-323-6900.

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Joanne Rossman

Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Joanne Rossman

Written interviews and Facebook Live interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many Roslindale business owners to close their brick-and-mortar spaces, including Joanne Rossman, the owner of her eponymous store on Birch Street.  The gift store has been a 20-year labor of love for Rossman who now has to find a new way to do business in the community.

“I need people to understand that although we are closed, it doesn’t mean we are not doing any business,” Rossman said.  “I don’t want people to forget that we exist. When no one comes into the door, they think we are no longer here.”  

Rossman says that the best way to support her business is to buy gift certificates in any denomination either on her website at joannerossman.com or call her at 617-680-8020. Customers can also buy products directly on her website, where Rossman is adding more items in the next few days, including candles and incense. Orders will be mailed as soon as they are made. She is very active on Instagram, where she says many of her followers go to for some much-needed relief during these uncertain times.

She recently ordered 15 copies of the book Fup by Jim Dodge, an escapist read Rossman will also sell on her website for $9.95 for as she says,” if you are looking for just a laugh.” Customers have also ordered greeting cards, which Rossman is mailing out. 

Weeks ago, Rossman ordered giftable items she knew her customers would want for upcoming occasions like Mother’s Day, graduations, and weddings.  However, because of her store’s physical closure, these items will have to sit until they are sold, as she can’t return certain items to the wholesalers she works with.  She has also concentrated on making her own products. She has made padded silk hangers, cosmetic bags, and slippers that are perfect Mother’s Day gifts. Customers can contact her about any of these products.

 “I am happy to be a personal shopper for your needs,” she said.

More information:  joannerossman.com or call her 617-680-8020

Roslindale Village Online & Phone Services

Roslindale Village Online & Phone Services

Thank you to so many caring members of our community who are seeking out ways to take action and come to the aid of our valued businesses in this difficult, unpredictable time. Online purchases from local merchants are great ways to show your support while practicing social distancing.

RVMS Board Member Robert Orthman compiled a list of Roslindale Village businesses that have online services! Click on a link for a local business below to visit their website and make an online purchase — like buying a gift certificate or ordering takeout. If you know of a Roslindale Village business not listed here that has online offerings, please email our Program Manager at manager@roslindale.net so we can add them to this page. #ROSlove

We will continue update this page as business offerings keep evolving to adhere to the City’s guidelines.

Online Options:

753 South – Takeout
Akasha Studio – Class passes & membership
Birch Flower Shop – Flower delivery
Birch Street Bistro – Gift certificates
Birch St. House & Garden – Gift certificates & online product ordering
ComedySportz Boston – Gift certificates, class sign-up & merchandise
Create: Art in Community – Online classes & passes
Delicious Yogurt – Order online for pickup
Distraction Brewing Co. – Gift certificates
Fit Choice 24/7 – Membership
Joanne Rossman – Purveyor of the Unnecessary & the Irresistible – Online product ordering
Liana Percoco, LMT – Sessions
Lyfe Cycle – Class Passes
Romano’s Pizzeria & Taqueria – Delivery & Takeout
Sophia’s Grotto – Delivery & Takeout
The Square Root – Order online for pickup
Turtle Swamp Beer Garden – Gift certificates
Village Sushi & Grill – Takeout
YMAA Boston – Class passes

Phone Numbers for Roslindale Village businesses offering takeout and/or delivery:

753 South617-477-4814
Birch Street Bistro617-323-2184
Blue Star Restaurant617-323-9638
Delfino617-327-8359
Delicious Yogurt617-942-8330
Dragon Chef617-327-3650
Fornax Bread Co. 617-325-8852
Imperial Kitchen617-327-2180
Jimmies Ice Cream & Sandwiches617-323-0838
Napper Tandy’s617-323-8400
Romano’s Pizzeria & Taqueria617-325-2885
Roslindale House of PIzza617-327-9170
Shanti: Taste of India (closed temporarily)617-325-3900
Sophia’s Grotto617-323-4595
Square Root617-477-3392
Village Sushi & Grill617-363-7874

Neighboring Roslindale businesses offering takeout and/or delivery:

Las Palmas617-323-3339
La Taqueria617-942-8117
Tasty Thai617-327-2378
Obosa617-327-3700

COVID-19 & Ways You Can Support Rozzie Businesses & Winter Farmers Market Vendors

COVID-19 & Ways You Can Support Rozzie Businesses & Winter Farmers Market Vendors

If you’re looking for ways to support local businesses right now, some of our merchants shared some great tips as many folks are choosing to spend more time in their homes than in public spaces:

– Purchase gift certificates for friends and family now for future gifts!
– Register/ sign up for summer workshops, classes, events, or services that are scheduled in the future or that you can redeem later.
– Order takeout and delivery from local food establishments. Check their websites to see if they offer delivery before jumping on a delivery service app — most businesses benefit more if delivery is ordered through their website or over the phone.
– Shop locally for other goods and services you purchase whenever possible.

Meet your needs locally and show our small businesses #ROSlove during this time which is becoming extremely slow for our local economy. Let’s come together as a community to preserve our beloved businesses!

Additionally, the RVMS Winter Farmers Market has been cancelled. Some of our vendors will be taking online delivery orders for their products. Please check out the following vendor list and their websites:

The Neighborhood  Farm and Still life Farm are taking online orders and will make delivery please support them by visiting their website at   www.theneighborhoodfarm.com, StillLifeFarm.com

If you are looking for fresh eggs and meat please contact Lilac Hedge and Grant Family Farm their website is   www.grantfamilyfarmessex.com , LilacHedgeFarm.com

For fresh apples please reach out to Apex Orchard’s website: www.apexorchards.com

For other specialty food vendors, please reach out to the following vendors through their websites and phone numbers if you need to place orders: 

Kim Pure Pastry– www.kimgregorypurepastry.com 978-969-3728
Valicenti Pasta Farm– gimmiespaghetti.com  603-459-3627
Beverly Bees–www.beverlybees.com  97877882765
1634 Meadery —1634Meadery.com  8574006516

IMPORTANT UPDATE: RVMS ANNUAL MEETING CANCELLED

IMPORTANT UPDATE: RVMS ANNUAL MEETING CANCELLED

Due to the State of Emergency declared in Massachusetts, we have cancelled the RVMS Annual Meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 25th at the Roslindale House. 

Instead, we will get creative and share our Annual Report electronically and also share out RVMS committee updates in an electronic format. We may even hold a short Q&A livestream with some of our staff and Board in the next week or so. Stay tuned.


As for the RVMS Spring Chick-or-Treat on Saturday, April 11th from 11:00am-1:00pm, this event is still on for now. We’ll let everyone know if this event will also need to be cancelled or rescheduled by the end of March.

For more info about COVID-19: MA DPH Info | City of Boston Info
Please note that for now, anyone over the age of 60 has been asked by the state to self quarantine.

Find tips to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19 by clicking here.

Featured: RVMS Annual Meeting 3.25: CANCELLED

The RVMS Annual Meeting has been cancelled.

Due to the State of Emergency declared in Massachusetts yesterday afternoon, we have cancelled the RVMS Annual Meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 25th at the Roslindale House.  Instead, we will share our Annual Report electronically and will share RVMS committee updates in an electronic format. We may hold a short Q&A livestream with some staff and Board members in the next week or so. Stay tuned.
For more info about COVID-19: MA DPH Info | City of Boston Info