SARATOGA SPRINGS – When Pint Sized was forced to shut its Saratoga Springs and Albany locations for three weeks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, owner August Rosa didn’t sit idly by.
The Spa City resident decided to bring craft beer to his patrons’ doorsteps from both the Broadway (Saratoga) and Lark Street (Albany) locations.
“It was important to stay relevant in the marketplace, and as regulations kept changing we had to reinvent our business model,” he said. “We tried to do the best we could with whatever parameters we had to work with.”
Before rebranding as Pint Sized Saratoga in 2017, and the Albany location the following year, Rosa originally operated both shops as Brew, a coffee and beer bar.
“I started noticing small hybrid shops where you could purchase beer to go and sit in a tasting-room environment, and I loved that idea,” Rosa said. “I started applying those ideas to Saratoga and we had immediate success, so I rebranded both shops.”
According to Rosa, the craft beer industry started to take off at the same time.
“We got in at the right time and were able to grow along with the market,” he said. “The craft beer industry is getting more diverse and exciting every year.”
Rosa said both Pint Sized locations boast more than 100 independent regional craft beers from New York City and the Hudson Valley as well as Massachusetts and Vermont, among others.
“I keep my inventory tight and offer the newest beers available in the market,” he said. “It’s not necessarily about having all the beers, but about having the right beers.”
Keeping things interesting
During the first couple of months of 2020, Rosa said he was optimistic about what the year held for his business.
“Our sales continued to move up during the first two months of the year but we had no clue what was going to happen,” he said. “Then that growth stopped, which wasn’t ideal, but I’m grateful for what we were able to capture last year.”
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Rosa attributed his experience with Brew as one of the main reasons he was able to navigate the pandemic waters.
“It was a blessing that we started with a retail foundation, so when I had to pivot during the pandemic it was something I was familiar with,” he said. “We’ve evolved and changed so much since then.”
After adding delivery service in 2020, Rosa started a to-go model before being allowed to add additional outdoor space, per state regulations, at both locations.
“Having that outside space was huge for us and was the best thing we were offered,” he said. “It saved us last year and I think it will save us again this year, too.”
Rosa also credits Paycheck Protection Program loans for helping to save his business.
“The assistance helped keep our staff on board,” he said of his nearly five employees at each location. “The second round of loans in the winter came at a crucial time. The winter would’ve been a nightmare for us without it, and I’m grateful I didn’t have to cut shifts and impact anyone’s livelihood.”
The pandemic also helped Rosa get more creative through collaborations with area business owners. Though both locations offered food options such as pickle plates and hot pretzels since they opened, Rosa wanted to offer something more.
“Collaborations have always been a fun way for us to keep things interesting and break the monotony of a normal week,” he said. “We constantly get inspired from our neighboring businesses, and it’s always a pleasure to team up with them and launch creative new concepts.”
In December, Rosa joined forces with Rory Moran, chef and owner of Comfort Kitchen at Saratoga Marketplace, for a meal kit delivery service.
“We offered easy meals to put together at home and paired them with a four-pack from Pint Sized,” Moran said. “It was a really nice opportunity for cross-promotion, and collaborating with like-minded business owners opens your eyes to things you haven’t thought of. It also exposes more people to what I’m doing, which is really helpful.”
Moran said he received exceptional customer feedback on the meal kit deliveries and is looking forward to teaming with Rosa again in the near future.
“We’re talking about doing something again once we’re able to safely,” Moran said. “It was good to have someone to collaborate with because it kept me busy and helped me feel like I wasn’t in this alone.”
In mid-March, when spring weather finally made an appearance in the Capital Region, Rosa said he was reminded of what keeps him going during this tough time while looking out onto a full patio at Pint Sized Albany.
“What keeps you moving forward is your customer base,” he said. “The amount of support we’ve seen from people since the day we opened is incredibly humbling. Without our customers, it wouldn’t work.”
Rosa said he’s looking forward to continuing to welcome guests at both Pint Sized locations.
“Everyone is excited about the warmer weather to come and I think things are moving in a better direction,” he said.
Now, after operating a business in the midst of a pandemic, Rosa feels he can tackle anything that comes his way.
“It showed me how resilient not only my business model is but also how resilient I am as a business owner,” he said. “There were so many weeks when bad stuff kept happening, but we prevailed and we’re still here. And after seeing so many places close, I can’t be anything but grateful. I feel like I can handle anything going forward.”
Rosa had plans to open a third Pint Sized location prior to COVID-19 and said he will resurrect those plans soon.
“We’ll see how the rest of the year shakes out, but if things continue on a good path I wouldn’t mind opening another location in 2022,” he said. “I’m ready for anything now.”
For more information, visit WeArePintSized.com.
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