How We Helped a Potsdam Business Owner During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Member Profile: Kara Robinson

Purple lilacs in a vase at Potsdam's Salon EsqueAs far as Kara Robinson was concerned, the offer was too good to be true.

Kara, owner of Salon Esque in Potsdam, was forced to temporarily close her local business during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Vikie Jones, the manager of Adirondack Regional FCU’s Potsdam branch, told Kara she qualified for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that would provide income—and as long as Kara spent the loan on qualifying business expenses, she wouldn’t even have to pay the loan back.

At first, Kara turned Vikie down. She wasn’t in dire straits and didn’t want to borrow more money than she could afford to repay.

But Vikie strongly suggested Kara take a look at the benefits a PPP loan provided. Vikie even traveled to the salon on her lunch break so Kara could sign the loan papers.

Going the Extra Mile to Help Our Members

If the prospect of free money came as a surprise to Kara, the kind of go-the-extra-mile service she received was not. Vikie and Adirondack Regional FCU have been helping Kara solve problems ever since she became a member almost 10 years ago. Back then, Kara had been turned down for an auto loan from another financial institution; Vikie, who personally knew Kara, suggested she’d have no problem qualifying for a car loan at the credit union. She got the loan.

And four years ago, when Kara wanted to open her own salon in Potsdam but couldn’t find any institutions willing to lend her business start-up money to renovate the space she found, Vikie told her that Adirondack Regional FCU could help make it happen.

She got that loan, too. A month and a half after signing the loan papers, Kara’s salon was ready to open. There weren’t any signs of the flower shop it had been. Contractors had painted the walls, installed a new floor, and made the space open, bright, and comfortable.

Fast-forward to the end of 2021, and Kara has paid off that personal loan—thanks, in part, to the PPP loan she received. Kara is the first to say she wouldn’t have even considered a PPP loan, much less applied for it, without Vikie’s suggestion. It’s why she does all her banking at the credit union. And why she steers her friends and family to Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union.

“I never anticipated having my own salon,” said Kara, who was raised by a single mother without a lot of money. “I never thought it was something that I could make work, especially because of the whole finance thing. It would have taken me so long to save up for what I needed to build this one. So, to other people out there, I’d say: Don’t give up. Explore your options.”

Now, four years after opening, Kara is already thinking about finding a bigger space. She knows she’ll need to find a space, and renovate it, and go through all the steps she did the first time around. But she won’t need to worry about finding a willing lender, Kara said. Because this time, she’ll turn to Adirondack Regional FCU first.