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Local Photographer Chad Windham Is Going Beyond The Boarded Up Windows For An Intimate Look At Small Businesses Trying To Make It Through A Pandemic.

All photos by Chad Windham.

As we steer through COVID-19’s damage, one thing remains insurmountably clear: many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. In fact, Facebook recently conducted a survey of 86,000 small to medium-sized businesses and found that nearly a third of them won’t survive shut downs

Since stay-home orders went into effect in mid-March, Dallas-based photographer Chad Windham has been pulling back the plywood for an intimate look at the faces behind some of Dallas’ locally-owned businesses. 

Finding themselves nearly powerless by no fault of their own, many local spots have had to face harsh realities of temporarily closing their doors, or if they’re permitted, opening at scarce availability through delivery or curbside pick-up. 

“You know, they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it’s easy to say these businesses are closed,” Windham says. “But when you actually see the people that are behind those doors, it makes a little bit more personal.”

After checking in on his friends Doug and Liz Davis, who own hidden Deep Ellum gem Murray Street Coffee, Windham found himself pining for a catch up with other friends who own small businesses around town — at a safe distance, of course. 

Friends like Chris Penn of Good Records and Matt Posey of Ochre House Theater allowed Windham to enter their abruptly desolate work spaces. Posey, who is outfitted with a mask and gloves in Windham’s portrait of him, wouldn’t even agree to the first shoot at the theater when the latter forgot to bring his mask. 

Being a small business owner himself with a full-time freelance photography company, Windham finds he’s able to relate, in some ways, to the subjects of his latest work. 

Now, with an open calendar, a face mask, his camera and bottle of whiskey, Windham has set out to capture hard-hit small business owners and employees for a look at their most vulnerable moments. 

“One of my subjects was actually furloughed during the shoot,” he says. 

And it’s not just restaurant and bar owners — perhaps the most absorbing features of Windham’s series are the highlights of unsuspecting business owners, such as bicycle racing organizer Ginny King or professional songwriter Greg Schroeder. 

There’s certainly an overarching element of the unknown with this pandemic for everyone, as we’re all learning how to adapt to its spread as best we can.

For many business owners that includes figuring out how to safely open their businesses again.

Today, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the next phase of businesses permitted to reopen. Effective immediately, places like tattoo parlors and childcare centers are able to reopen in full, while beginning Friday, May 22, restaurants are able to open at 50 percent capacity and bars are permitted to open at 25 percent capacity.

Still, Windham says his experiences with local business owners have shown many of them still have their doubts of what reopening means on a long-term basis.

“I think the biggest issue is that there’s not a definitive answer, so nobody knows exactly what to expect or how to plan,” Windham says. “If there’s a big spike in the next week, are they just going to shutter everything again? Or if they open up to 50 percent and there’s a huge spike, then are we closed through December?”

Despite the harrowing circumstances he has captured, Windham seems optimistic, which is likely channeled from the resilience of his subjects.

“The majority of the people that I talked to feel like ‘we’re Texans, we’ll persevere,’” he says. “No matter what, what the other side of it looks like —  we will come out of it.”

Liz and Doug Davis – Murray Street Coffee

Gretchen Hinkle – Dolly Python

Greg Schroeder – songwriter

Jake Levy – Desperado’s

Greg Nixon and Dave Kirk – White Rock Ale House

Ginny King – professional cyclist

Gerald Stogsdill – Cosmos Lounge

Gary Leland – SoftballJunk.com

Dorin Schadel – Majestic Theatre

Dina Scott – Drumba

Chris Penn – Good Records

Cheryl and Peter Kenny – Lochland’s

Carley Seale – Favor The Kind

Butch Owens – college professor

Boyd Wallace – Dallas Bike Works

Billy Jack Gunter – Artistic Encounter

Benny Jack Hinkle – Benny Jack Antiques

Wende Stevenson and Aaron Gross – MoMo’s

Trent Blackley – First Baptist Church of Rockwall

Steve Jones – Dallas Children’s Theater

Seth Smith – Lee Harvey’s

Roshi Muns – Society Bakery

Mike Noyes – 9 Round

Michael Wyatt – Full City Rooster

Matt Posey – Ochre House Theater

Mary and Alberto Tomas – Mary Tomas Gallery

Lilly Benitez – Blade Craft Barber Academy

Kathy Leland – Leland’s Wallpaper

Katherine Clapner – Dude, Sweet Chocolate

Julie McCullough – Harkensback

Josh David Jordan – filmmaker

John Schmitz and Ian Tate – Lake House

Jessica Jordan – Super Yoga Palace

Jen Hensley – Lotus Yoga

Like so many small businesses, we at Central Track face an uncertain future due to the effects of COVID-19. In our entire eight years as a publication, we’ve never locked our content from you through subscriptions or paywalls, but in order to make it out on the other side of all this, we need your help. If you can, please consider supporting our coverage of all things Dallas culture by joining us on Patreon for exclusive perks or by donating directly through PayPal or Zelle at [email protected]

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