Dance studio Fresno among companies selected for Barstool Fund

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Fresno Dance Studio has been selected as a small business that the Barstool Fund would provide financial assistance to help survive amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The studio focuses on teaching dance to children from 3 to 18 years old.

Fresno Dance Studio

To keep her dance studio afloat and avoid laying off staff members amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Fresno business owner Sue Sampson-Dalena decided last summer to sell her home .

It was a painful decision to leave her dream home, but one that Sampson-Dalena felt she had to make to keep her longtime business, The Fresno Dance Studioopen and caring for its employees.

“I tried so hard to get the kids dancing and watch over the employees,” Sampson-Dalena said. “We tried so many different things to stay open and keep our customers happy. And the staff have been great at following through on the vision.

“But it was hard. Really difficult. Sometimes you feel like you don’t know what more you can do. You feel the pressure and it has an emotional impact.

Sampson-Dalena, however, found unexpected financial relief last week after millionaire Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sportsheard of his difficulties and offered to help.

In reality, Portnoy Bar Stool Bottomswhich has raised nearly $33 million to help small businesses across the country that have been impacted by COVID-19, chose two businesses in Fresno to offer help.

The other was The Hungry Spa and Hair Salon.

Bar Stool Funds and Dave Portnoy

The two Fresno companies applied through the Barstool Fund’s online help. The only requirement to be eligible was that a company must have continued to pay its employees during the pandemic.

Portnoy said he was motivated to help struggling small businesses after complaining that the US government was not providing enough help.

“How do you expect these people to survive,” Portnoy said in a video that featured The Barstool Fund. “They are already on their last leg and you unplug them.

“And no one seems to care in government. Or at least they don’t, acting like they care. No idea. No relief. No bailout. What’s going to happen?”

Portnoy said the Barstool Fund will provide regular financial assistance to certain companies.

“Once you’re in our program, we’ll pay what you need to give you a fair chance to run your business,” Portnoy said. “These small business owners are losing their livelihood and have no recourse or way to save it – through no fault of their own.

“They received a hand that no one can play. We’re going to try to save as many businesses, small businesses, as possible. »

Sampson-Dalena said she was thrilled after finding out her company had been selected.

Even though she initially ignored the help.

Sampson-Dalena said she avoided answering her cell phone multiple times in the past week because they were FaceTime calls from a phone number she didn’t recognize.

Then, in between dance lessons, Sampson-Dalena finally decided to answer and find out who kept calling.

She didn’t recognize the face.

It was Portnoy.

“I had no idea who I was talking to,” Sampson-Dalena said. “It was a nice conversation. He’s just something special.

“The call came in out of the blue. My sons helped me apply for the Barstool Fund. I didn’t give it much thought after that. Then when he called I was just flabbergasted.

Dancing during the pandemic

Money from the Barstool Fund should help Sampson-Dalena cover some of her business expenses for at least the next three months.

Each month there will be an evaluation of the progress of business.

“It will help a lot,” she said. “The cost of doing business has piled up.”

The Fresno Dance Studio has been around since 1982, teaching people of all ages, with an emphasis on those ages 3-18.

Among the studio’s alumni includes Jason Glovera contemporary dancer who appeared in a season of the television series “So You Think You Can Dance” and toured with singer Ariana Grande.

During the pandemic, the Fresno dance studio first closed, then taught classes online before eventually returning to in-person classes inside the 14,000-square-foot building.

But after indoor classes were banned due to local and state government mandates, Sampson-Dalena directed her staff to conduct classes outdoors in various city parks.

Eventually, however, the public park setting didn’t work out so well.

So Sampson-Dalena decided to rent large concert stages in front of her dance studio, in the parking lot.

“It was a little tough,” Sampson-Dalena said. “The children have been resilient. They just want to dance. It was a little more difficult for my older teachers. But we made it work.

“We have been teaching dance and serving young people for almost four decades. We never planned to stop. The Barstool Fund will help us to continue.

Fresno Dance Studio
Fresno Dance Studio has been selected as a small business that the Barstool Fund would provide financial assistance to help survive amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Spa & Hungry Hair Salon was also selected. Courtesy picture Fresno Dance Studio

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Bryant-Jon Anteola is a multimedia reporter for The Fresno Bee, writing stories and producing videos on sports, current affairs, and random topics related to those in the Fresno area. He won the McClatchy President’s Award and received an honorable mention from the Associated Press Sports Editors. He loves sports because of the competition, camaraderie, and energy, and sees sports as a microcosm of society.


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