Small business owners discuss effects of coronavirus pandemic -- COVID-19 Diaries

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Friday, May 15, 2020
COVID-19 Diaries: The Struggles of Small Business
In this episode of COVID-19 Diaries, discover the effects of novel coronavirus on small businesses.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Last month, Forbes magazine reported on a survey published by the National Bureau of Economic Research stating that if the economic damage from novel coronavirus continues for six months, less than 40-percent of small businesses will be open by the end of the year.

Pete's Hardware in Castro Valley has been a family-owned business since 1926. We recently spoke with owner, Linda Roark, about the pandemic's effects on her business.

COVID-19 DIARIES: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during novel coronavirus pandemic

"I had one man running in right before closing one evening. And he suddenly had no power in his house and he had been fiddling around trying to fix it," said Roark. "You know, you have to be there for that. And so we will be."

However, some of her customers didn't agree with the protective measures she put in place to keep customers and her employees safe.

"A lot of people just yelling and berating and swearing at us, because we're trying to follow the rules," said Roark.

One customer called his attorney about mask wearing, she recounted, "Only to find out that he did have to have a face covering on to come into a store."

TAKE ACTION: How you can help amid COVID-19 pandemic

Lina Mills, who has over 20 years' experience in catering, was doing well prior to the crisis. Her San Francisco-based business, Creative Ideas Catering, was thriving and on the verge of moving into a new building. Now, she's had to let go of most of her twelve-person team, mostly made up of family members.

Some business owners, like Frank Nguyen of Academic Coffee in San Jose, are thinking about safety, but also how challenges present opportunities.

"I probably would still continue operating the same way that I am now of just doing a window takeout service, because I'm still worried about safety," said Nguyen. "But, you know, I'm trying out new ideas like, how can we deliver without using a third party delivery service that's gonna take a huge percentage."

Many business owners are having to pivot for economic survival, but Brittney Doyle, owner of Wise Health, a health consulting company, is finding the task personally enriching for her and the community too.

"I never thought in a million years that I would be delivering food and you know creating my own produce bags. So, now I found something that I can stand behind that, you know, encompasses everything that Wise itself stands for in one package," said Doyle. "It's like a gift to the seniors from the community is really what it is for me to, you know, put together volunteers and to identify isolated seniors and to motivate people to go out and just serve."

COVID-19 Diaries is an ABC7 Originals limited series that shares the personal stories of Bay Area people as we work together to cope with coronavirus and re-define what it means to live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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