BOSTON (CBS) – As small businesses fight for federal help, some are too small to qualify in the first place. Now, they are forced to ask the public for donations just to stay afloat.
“I have always dreamed of opening in the main business district,” said Carina Pena. Six months ago, her dream came true when she and her husband opened Rose JP Consignment. “We literally put everything on the line,” said John Pena.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the Penas to shut down, and do something they never considered before…ask the public for a bail-out through GoFundMe. “It’s like you’re really out of options and you’re really just feeling like you need to ask your customers for help,” said Carina.
“If we want these small businesses to get through this crisis, we need to invest in them,” said Jon Hurst, who heads up the Massachusetts Retailers Association. He started a Facebook page that’s full of local shops looking for a lifeline through fundraising. There are restaurants, a South End frame shop, a North End bookstore, and the list goes on. “One of their last straws is going to people in their community that value them and want them to survive, and be there when we get out of this crisis,” said Hurst.
He says many small businesses don’t qualify for government aid. Rose JP Consignment is considered a “micro-business”, with just three employees on the payroll. The Penas have been told that’s too small to qualify for a grant.
They’ve opened an online store, which has them taking photos of inventory, mailing and delivering merchandise, and paying extra attention to their window display. They post special notes directing window-shoppers to their website.
“One of the things that’s happened with small businesses in this pandemic…you’re seeing more of the human behind it, and I think that’s what really people connect to, and that will determine how this will all get back on track when this is all over,” said Carina Pena. She hopes it’s the key to saving Main Street Massachusetts.