Gail Leonardo Sundling, owner of Delmar Bootery in Stuyvesant Plaza, is juggling the impact of COVID-19 on her small business.
She was forced to lay off her dedicated employees. She is figuring out how to keep the family business afloat — which she runs with her 43-year-old daughter Mandy — amid state and federal regulations relating to the pandemic. Meanwhile, businesses in her rental properties are feeling the impact. One has closed altogether. Another apartment in Troy was severely damaged in a flood in late December.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my 44 years in business,” Sundling said of the closing of Delmar Bootery and the layoffs.
This is all going on while she organizes a unique spring golf trip in conjunction with members of the LPGA Amateurs Capital Region chapter scheduled for the end of May that last year attracted a full field of 120 players.
When she announced the store closing on Facebook, she wrote:
“The Delmar Bootery, for the first time in 82 years, has closed for an extended period of time. … With a heavy heart I had to lay off my employees. … This is just a season. I believe and have hope we will be more compassionate and kinder to strangers and our families.”
“This is a time to slow down, persevere in our faith, He does not fail us.”
She ended with a Bible verse.
“This is just a season” is part of my daily mantra.
Sundling took over the business when she was just 24 years old after her mom suffered a broken neck in a car crash. Her father founded the business in their home in 1938 and he died suddenly when Sundling was 18. Her mother took over the business for six years leading up to the crash. Her mom eventually recovered from the crash, and three generations of women evolved Delmar Bootery — a unique, stylish shoe store also specializing in shoe and leather repair — into a Capital Region small business success story.
It is during the season of golf when I’m connected to many women in the Capital Region who are successful businesswomen who have made a mark in our communities and who serve as examples to young women trying to make it both professionally while carving out some important networking and social time through the game of golf.
Sundling is one of those people.
She made time to golf as a young business owner. She put together a staff who could take over so she could get some “me time” on the course. For her, Wednesday was that day. She played in various leagues, including the executive course at Hiawatha Trails, and most recently a league at Orchard Creek. The late philanthropist and Price Chopper executive Jane Golub also played in the Orchard Creek league for many years.
“The more I played the more I loved it. The best part was the camaraderie, and that, plus the business contacts, you meet people with common interests and goals,” she said in a telephone interview.
And now she also takes the time to make other women feel like they belong on the golf course.
She started organizing tournaments at two of the area’s championship courses with a unique goal in mind.
“The whole purpose of the tournaments is to give women who never had a chance or the experience to play a championship course the opportunity to play and not have to worry about how good they are or how they were going to score,” Sundling said, explaining that players didn’t need a handicap to participate. “It was just a fun day on a beautiful course.”
“Equinox was a sponsor of EWGA and we were excited to form a partnership with them,” she said. “Last year we had 120 players, it was a full field.”
And you don’t have to be a dues-paying member of the LPGA Amateurs, the former Executive Women’s Golf Association, to play.
“We play fun games, easy games, everyone is on a level playing field,” she said. “I think because there is no pressure that is why it’s so successful.”
It’s something we need right now. Sporting events are being canceled and there’s a good chance large golf outings won’t be held this season. But the spirit of her tournament is something to embrace.
The state has given approval for golf courses to open, as long as guidelines are followed.
“Golf courses are allowed to remain open but must implement all CDC and state-mandated guidelines, and promote safe, social distancing,” a press release from the New York State Golf Association stated. Read Times Union golf writer Pete Dougherty’s full report here.
That’s a good thing.
Remember: this is just a season.
Joyceb10bassett@gmail.com • @joyceb10bassett • https://blog.timesunion.com/allin