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Cleveland Marine's flexibility helps propel business through pandemic and beyond

James Hido's entertainment business took a big hit when the COVID-19 came, but by thinking outside the box he's set himself up for success post-pandemic

CLEVELAND — It's hard to imagine a combat veteran hired to lead the "git up" at a wedding, but for James Hido and his partner John, this is now the big business. 

Just a few years ago, Hido was DJing at local bars for $100 a night, while getting a business degree during the day from Cleveland State University. Now, Hido runs VYBE Entertainment, which offers everything from DJ and MC services to dance floor and event lighting and more. 

"Some of those weddings could range from $1,000 to a couple thousand dollars, easily," Hido said. "So if we multiply that by say four weddings any given Friday or Saturday, that's $10,000 to $12,000."

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But then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. No large gatherings, and definitely no weddings. 

"Our concern was how do we stay relevant in an industry that is 100 percent shutdown," Hido said. "I had no way of earning revenue, brining in revenue to buy food for our table, the whole nine yards."

But as fighters do, when life closes a door... he breached the wall, and walked in like a boss. 

He started first by hosting music bingo on Facebook, where he and his partner gave out gift cards to winners who left positive reviews on their company website. Then meetings with potential brides online, instead of just showing a demo.

"It was a good way for us to stay interactive," Hido said. "Keep people top of mind, and at the end of the day when somebody wants to interact with whom their potential DJ could be for their wedding, what better way than me showing you live interactive sets [so] that you can interact with with us."

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All of the steps that Hido took are all things job coaches suggest anyone who took a pandemic hit should do. 

"You really have to be able to think outside the box," said Abby Kohut of Absolutely Abby. "Don't just be going for one thing."

So, with that in mind, and with COVID leading to more carry-out food, Hido cooked up another idea. He bought a food truck to bring to different locations while riding out the pandemic. Then, add that to the menu of his entertainment company when weddings resumed.

"So now I can bundle all of your entertainment, plus all your mobile catering at any location you want together," Hido said. "And that now bundle just turned into a very significant dollar amount in comparison to what we were offering."

Barra de Taco had its sold out soft opening on a Tuesday last month. They've already started catering events, hit multiple spots for Cinco de Mayo and are booking weddings with their food.

It hasn't been the battle plan he expected, but one which helped this Marine survive.

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