Safer at Home – Day Sixteen


April 18, 2020

A friend of mine is spending some of his safer-at-home time in the kitchen, creating little culinary masterpieces for he and his wife. He posts pictures of his dinner plates nightly, challenging others to do the same. It’s a fun little game and one way to stay connected with others. Last night, I posted a picture of our meal but I cheated.

My wife and I have made the decision to add our support to the local restaurants of our little town by purchasing take-out meals from them. If enough of us add our patronage to their businesses, they stand a better chance of surviving this time of social distancing.

Our picturesque town of Mount Dora, especially our charming downtown area, could be America’s poster town for small business. You won’t find national chain stores along our tree-lined streets. What you will find are mom and pop shops providing unique wares and services to our community and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to enjoy what we’ve managed to build upon over the last 140 years.

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As the glue that holds our small businesses together, our restaurants provide our visitors with a wide choice of dining options from which to choose as they spend their day exploring our town. Food from around the world: Asian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, German, Italian, Cuban, English, Peruvian and American specialties among others offered in just as many varied settings from casual to fine dining can all be enjoyed here. And it wasn’t unusual to see our sidewalks, stores and restaurants filled with just as wide an assortment of people who have come to Mount Dora to shop, play, and eat.

Coronavirus has temporarily put a stop to that. Our little town is on hold right now. And because mom and pop shops are not known for having deep pockets, this time is especially hard on them.

Anything we can do to help support them during this time would be most appreciated. An easy support is to purchase meals from the restaurants who have converted their business models to a takeout and delivery service. Dining in will eventually return but until then, this brings them a revenue stream to keep them going.

Last night’s meal was purchased from Copacabana Cuban Cafe. Delicious and made for an attractive place setting. We treated it as a “stay at home date night.” We encourage others to do the same.

Here’s a list of Mount Dora restaurants who could use your support. You’ll see some chain restaurants on this list which are located outside of the quaint downtown area.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Fourteen


April 16, 2020

Like millions of other small business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic, I dutifully filled out the forms provided by the banks and government to apply for the PPP forgivable loan. And like most others, have been waiting for the arrival of the financial help that was promised.

It turns out that, for me, the old adage proves true: “There’s no such thing as free money.” I’ve learned that we are not eligible for the small business stimulus program because my wife and I (as co-owners and the only employees of our business) do not draw a salary from our studio. Most of our profits are reinvested into our company. Over the year, we do take out a modest sum via a shareholder distribution but we’ve learned this is not eligible for the PPP.

We have submitted for the EIDL which is another government sponsored program but even less information is available on the status of that application and I’m not holding my breath for it. But I’m not concerned and I’m sure you might ask me why.

It is because, unlike Blanche DuBois from The Streetcar Named Desire, I’ve never depended on the kindness of strangers. In fact, I find they disappoint more often than not. Instead, I trust in God and find support from the friends and community to which I’m connected. And they’ve been stepping up big time.

Throughout the week, I have heard from customers for whom I’ve done work in the past who have let me know of films, videos and slides they have discovered during their time “staying-at-home” and they have gone out of their way to drop them by the studio, providing us with enough revenue to cover our expenses; and enough work to keep us occupied during this unusual time. I remind myself that they didn’t “need” to find work for us. They didn’t need to spend money with us at this time converting old memories to a digital form. I’d like to think that they wanted to. They wanted to support our small enterprise and we are very thankful.

At the end of the day, our government is not what is going to help small businesses survive this economic pandemic. It’s going to come from the communities which they serve. We’ll get by with a little help from our friends.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.




April 8, 2020 

Today’s blog comes with a considerable amount of thankfulness. I, like many other small businesses out there, will not be able to survive this time in our country’s history without the patronage of our local communities. I happen to be more fortunate than some as I can continue to function during this “lock-down” with only minor concessions.

Even though I am “quarantining” at home, I have the benefit of owning a small business that is located in a home-like environment. So while I am staying at home most of the time, when the need arises, I can get in my car, drive about five minutes to the little stand-alone 1920s cottage that serves as my studio where my wife and I are the only employees, and “meet” people who make appointments to either drop off or pick up orders. During this time, we are operating under a strict “no contact” rule. They leave the order for me to collect or I leave the finished product for them to pick up once the order is completed. All correspondence or financial transactions are made electronically or over the phone. For the time being, we have decided to keep each other safe by eliminating all person to person contact. But even with these precautions, business has reduced… understandably so.

The government makes great promises about providing financial assistance to small businesses during this time. But quite frankly, that assistance is slow in coming… if it ever will. Our main support will come from the same place it always has… the communities we serve. Without that support, we cease to exist. So I am thankful for the clients who continue to bring me work.

Today I received an order that will help support me through this trying time. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide the services I can render to them. I trust they will value the product I will deliver back to them as much as I value their trusting me with the memories they left at my door.

Keep yourselves safe. Support your local small business entities. When all this is over, you’ll be glad you did.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home

April 2, 2020 – the eve
Our statewide initiative of “safer at home” because of the COVID-19 virus begins at midnight tonight and ends April 30 so I thought I would document our activities for the next 30 days.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up without getting a little buggy. 
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This morning, I “met” with my BNI (Business Networking International) chapter using a Zoom account. It feels good to still be connected to others even while we are preparing to disconnect and operate from home during this time. I have a feeling we will all become teleconferencing experts before this is all over. But meeting with them did give me some ideas as they all began to explain how they were adapting their varied business models during this pandemic.
Kate and I took what might be our last trip (for a while) to the studio today to determine what we might bring back with us that would be helpful.  Other than cleaning supplies, some coffee pods, and an extra roll of toilet paper, we figured that our two stand-alone devices would be the easiest to relocate.  Moving forward, we will have the ability to scan, crop and color correct 35mm slides and be able to capture and transfer 8mm and Super 8 film all from the safety of our home. Those captured files can be converted to a digital format (mp4) that can be stored on a usb drive. So we will obviously be marketing those services during the next month.
We can accept new orders by mail or overnight carrier to our home address. We will process those jobs at our home and ship them directly back to our clients. Call for more information.
Our videotape and audio tape transfer service requires multiple machines that are interconnected therefore we did not opt to bring those home with us. However, if I read the governor’s instructions properly, there is nothing to prevent me from leaving my home, traveling alone in my car to my empty studio that is five minutes away to process videotape/audiotape orders as long as I do not come into contact with anyone else. We are working up a no-contact dropoff/pickup protocol. Call us at 352-735-8550 for more information.
On a personal note, while we are in self-isolation, we’ll be looking for TV watching opportunities. We’ve already blown through Picard season one; discovered and finished the third season of Designated Survivor; finished all episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and there’s no more Downton Abbey on the horizon. I’ll let you know what our next TV guilty pleasure is going to be.
Stay safe. I’ll touch in tomorrow.



Small Business Saturday is taking place this week. November 25! Sponsored by American Express, this #shopsmall event is designed to bring attention to the vital importance that small, locally-owned businesses have in their community.

If you’re wondering why it is important to support small businesses in your town or city, here’s a list that has been put together to educate the consumer:

1. Supporting small businesses keeps money within the community and enhances the local economy.

2. Small businesses add charm and character. They may be at the very heart and identity of the community, making them favorites at farmers’ markets and fairs.

3. They create vibrant, local shopping areas that are attractive to home buyers and can raise property values.

4. Must-see small businesses can draw tourism, also boosting the local economy.

5. They offer unique gift items not found anywhere else.

6. Small businesses tend to buy from other small businesses. When they purchase locally-sourced ingredients or products, they also contribute to their neighbor business’ success and the economic well-being of the community entire.

7. Customer service at small businesses can be a more personal experience. Customers may easily build relationships with owners and staff, and perhaps even feel like they’ve become part of a family.

8. Small businesses create jobs and are often better work-places than large chains.

9. They dictate their own prices to remain competitive, which means you can often find better quality items at good costs.

10. Small business owners are generally experts in their field and are better equipped to answer complex questions or provide innovative solutions for their customers.

Whether it is this Saturday or any other time, we hope that you will see your way clear to browse the locally owned shops in your community. You may find something you absolutely love while, at the same time, help your neighbors and boost your local economy.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and are proud to count themselves as one of the millions of locally owned businesses that provide services or products to their friends and neighbors.

They can be reached at 352-735-8550.