By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – January 2, 2020
The following is an ongoing four part series of how small business has fared over the past year. Obviously 2020 has not been a normal year for small business in Del Norte County. Just how devastating, will only become evident in the months to come. Yet, it is very clear that many will not survive. Probably the biggest travesty is that the State of California has done little to help those businesses, and correspondingly its governor, Gavin Newsom, seemed intent on doing everything possible to make it all that much more difficult.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to a local salon owner, whose once thriving shop was home to upwards of 10 to 12 independent contractors with a full range of services that catered to both men and women. Since then, the shop’s once bustling interior is a virtual ghost town with but a single contractor offering her services to two customers during the course of the entire morning I was in the shop. For a period between March and the end of June, the shop was closed entirely, and has not come close to fully recovering.
The independent contractors, who often could be expected to earn between $1500 and $3000 per month were, as contractors, unable to tap into the State’s unemployment system and California made no effort to find some means to replace that income. The business owner was treated as a single entity, and did not receive sufficient compensation through the Federal relief loan program to be of much help to her contractors. Governor Newson and the State did nothing but issue more meaningless mandates.
Over the course of the summer of 2020, the incessant screeching of the media and further mandates by the governor made it impossible for the business to recover. Long term customers, fearful of their health refused to leave their homes to engage the shop’s services. Business declined in July to less than 25% of its former level. Only two contractors remained to service the few customers that remained. Thus far not a single Covid related event has been associated with the shop. In fact even over the course of the recent uptick in Covid infections, Del Norte County can count few serious cases. Never the less, the draconian restrictions continue unabated and debts and expenses mount.
Apparently, not one of all the highly paid government employees, who never missed a pay check, could figure out that if the State and local officials closed or restricted businesses, that rent, power, water, and all the expenses related to running a business did not take a holiday. Many small businesses as this local shop exist on a very tight margin and do not have the luxury of sitting at home expecting the taxpayer to support them. This shop is grimly hanging on hoping as the shop owner exclaimed, “I am so over this, It is time to get back to work.” Governor Newsom are you listening?
Stay tuned as the second part of the series will appear shortly. The second part will attempt to shine a light into the difficulties of running a hotel or motel in 2020.