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Impacts of Pandemic on Local Businesses

Pedy’s Petals in Santa rosa, who was allowed to reopen on May 4. It is one of many small businesses in Sonoma County dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.

By Kyle Wu, Editor

Even though California has gradually relaxed its shelter-in-place order, the piecemeal reopening has not significantly benefited local businesses, who are still struggling to survive the pandemic. 

According to The Press Democrat, many businesses lack much needed resources, and are struggling to stay afloat. Pedy Lawson, the owner of Pedy’s Petals, a local flower shop in Santa Rosa, has been forced to make difficult cuts in staff and services, resorting only to the “bare minimum”. She has had to cut much of her staff and significantly reduce her weekend hours.

Lawson was allowed to reopen her shop on May 4 after weeks of closure. Despite this, she has still experienced difficulties in maintaining her usual services through the pandemic.

Lawson says that her shop’s services have “100 percent changed.” They are no longer able to offer services for “funerals, weddings, and even graduation” at what is usually “the busiest time of the year”. Many of her planned services have even been delayed to 2021, which has been detrimental for her business.

However, Lawson said that her current financial hardship is primarily due to the lack of “walk in traffic.” Since she is only allowed to utilize curbside pick up and delivery, and on the rare occasion that a customer needs to enter the shop, she only allows one person to come in at a time. 

The challenges facing Pedy’s Petals are largely representative of the obstacles other small businesses are facing. According to The North Bay Business Journal, the top priorities of Sonoma County businesses are steady cash flow and assistance for laid off employees. 

On the bright side, Pedy’s Petals has still been getting some business despite the pandemic, thanks to community support. According to Lawson, even though the vast majority of her events have been canceled, she is still able to provide “individualized services” for various households.

In addition, Lawson states that hers and many other businesses have been relying on government aid during the weeks of closure. She has secured a Payment Protection Program loan for her business, which she plans to “use appropriately” to benefit her employees. 

Yet despite her temporary loan, there are numerous requirements that must be met in order for the government to forgive the loan. According to The Press Democrat, failure to follow the requirements will only result in an additional debt for businesses. 

In addition, not all small businesses were lucky enough to receive financial assistance. According to NBC News, only about 80 percent of small businesses owners who applied for a PPP Loan received one, and those who did still have to be careful to ensure that this aid does not become a low interest loan. 

As a result of the difficulties surrounding PPP loans, many prominent members of the food industry, including Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary National Restaurant Association CEO Marvin Irby are pushing for changes in the Payment Protection Program. According to NBC News, these changes will likely support more business owners who apply for aid.

Despite the challenges that come with PPP loans, they have benefitted local businesses, at least in the short run. According to Lawson, her loan has allowed her to recall many of her former employees, and has supported her business during the weeks of closure.

Despite the gradual recovery that Pedy’s Petals has experienced, Lawson believes more should be done to assist local businesses, specifically emphasizing the need to reopen soon.

“I miss the love that happens in this place”, said Lawson. “These businesses must be allowed to reopen so that things can go back to normal”. 

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