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By Mike Hazlip–
While many area businesses have struggled to stay open during COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, some have seen an increase in traffic.
Kimberly Berg, owner of the Citrus Heights Car Wash at the corner of Antelope Road and Auburn Boulevard, told The Sentinel she initially prepared to face a tough economic downturn and looked at scaling back on expenses as shutdowns began in mid-March. Although she saw a slowdown in business during the end half of March, business rebounded in April and has continued to increase.
Berg told The Sentinel in an interview Friday that state guidelines do not specifically address self-serve car wash businesses, while other full service car wash locations were forced to shut down initially.
“There was a lot of uncertainty around the car wash, it was kind of a gray area,” Berg said. “I wasn’t sure if we were considered essential.”
Other self-serve car washes have not fared as well as Berg’s. In an email to The Sentinel, she said two other self-serve car wash businesses in the region have closed in recent months.
Berg has seen some downsides during COVID-19, including the cancellation of Hot August Bites this year, where she had signed up as a sponsor and had purchased $1,500 worth of custom-printed air fresheners to hand out.
While weekends continue to be busy for Citrus Heights Car Wash, Berg has seen a steady increase in traffic during weekdays as well. She attributes the increased demand to people working from home having more discretionary time.
Another factor contributing to the bump in business has been the recent Northern California wildfires, which has created a need for more frequent washing of cars due to ash and dust throughout the region.
Online reviews highlight the car wash’s clean bays, well-maintained equipment, and 24-hour operation. Berg lives nearby and can often be seen interacting with customers and making sure operations are running smoothly.
The car wash owner said she tries to avoid negative talk or complaints about the economy, saying people already have enough to worry about.
“I have found it helpful to stay positive and flexible,” she said in an interview on Friday. “No one really wants to hear a business owner complain about politics, money problems or uncertainty of their future.”
That attitude seems to be working for her business. While Berg is mindful that other types of businesses have been significantly impacted by the shutdown, she’s thankful her business is thriving.
“I’m grateful that my car wash is able to stay open and is doing so well,” said Berg with her signature upbeat attitude. “I decided that I’m not going to worry or panic, but focus on my business strengths.”
She says anyone can be successful if they find the right market for their product or service.
“The business owners who are positive and creative, who find what is their niche, and then really learn to accentuate and play to that strength, they’re the ones who are going to do well,” she said.
Being aware of other businesses and individuals struggling as the COVID-19 shutdown drags on, has motivated Berg to give back to the community. She did not divulge any details, but said she has found ways to help others.
“If I can be a little beacon of hope and joy,” she said. “It helps me and I know it helps them because they would say thank you.”
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