Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce survey paints devastating picture
Almost half of those who lost income said their business fell more than 50% between 2019 and last year. Only 15% said they added employees in the same amount of time.
“Obviously, companies are barely hanging on,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “And we interviewed those who are still in business. This is not a comment on those who have closed permanently.
There were 60,000 small businesses in the borough before March, and 84% of them had less than 10 employees.
The Chamber of Commerce interviewed 166 small businesses in several sectors. About half of the businesses were located in downtown Brooklyn, and 51% of the total were minority or female-owned businesses.
To weather the economic storm, small businesses have changed their business model, innovated, contracted, or used a set of measures to make profits. Almost 60% have reduced their hours; 33% have made technology upgrades; 23% converted to e-commerce; 21% threw vans at the curb; and 11% built an outdoor facility.
Greene’s uniform store has gone from selling church and clergy badges to selling hospital clothing purchased under an economic disaster loan from the Small Business Administration. But the inventory change did not attract more customers, she said.
“During the whole month of February, I have nothing to do at all,” she said. “And I go to the store every day. It’s so disheartening, and it’s depressing, and I don’t know what I’m going to do.
She said she hoped things would pick up once she uses the state and city MWBE certification to secure government contracts from the Education Department to sell uniforms to children returning to schools. public this year.
“I am waiting for this to be approved,” she said. “I’m just still praying. I’m not giving up yet.
One-third of all businesses surveyed said they owed some form of rent arrears. Only 2% said they were able to restructure or renegotiate their lease. On the other hand, 40% of businesses have obtained a reduction in rent or have had their rent deferred. Almost half received no concessions, resulting in closings and closures.
Mitchell Szpicek has owned the Little Things toy store in Park Slope for 13 years, although the store has been a neighborhood staple since 1977. In the past year, two of Park Slope’s three stores have closed for good. He estimates that he lost $ 500,000 in income last year and that he owes the government $ 200,000 in loan repayments.
“We only have one store left,” Szpicek said. “We still don’t know where we will be tomorrow.
Federal aid has played a big role in helping Brooklyn small businesses like Little Things survive.
“Before we got the government loans, we were on the verge of going bankrupt,” Szpicek said.
About 75% of the companies surveyed received a loan from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, while 53% received assistance from EIDL.
The results of the Chamber of Commerce survey show that the status quo for small businesses in New York City is not sustainable.
“At the end of the day, we have to reopen,” Peers said. “We urgently need to reopen more of our economy and access much more federal support if our small businesses are to survive in 2021.“