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Local businesses struggle amid COVID-19 pandemic

By BELA PATEL

Stores all around Carmel have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a negative impact on both the people running the business and the businesses themselves, while leading storeowners to get creative. 

The lack of income for the storeowners makes it hard for them to stay financially stable, leading them to apply to several programs for financial support. For example, April Hess, owner of the Cottage of Sweets, a candy shop on Ocean Avenue, has applied to multiple income programs as a way to make up for lost revenue after being closed since March. 

The Cottage of Sweets, like many other businesses in Carmel, is closed for the time being. (Photo by Bela Patel)

“We are looking for help anywhere we can,” Hess says. “We have applied to the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs because of having no income.” Both the PPP and EIDL are federal loans from the Small Business Administration meant to help businesses in need of financial support. 

Hess explains that not only is the business not making any money anymore, but they have incurred debt from paying rent and employees. Even though the business is closed, Hess has decided to continue to pay and help employees, lowering her income flow even more. 

In order to keep some money coming in, many businesses have resorted to having an online presence. Hess explains how the Cottage of Sweets has online ordering and is giving the option for locals to email the store and request a product to pick up at a certain time. 

Jessica Braiker, owner of Glacier Bar, a spa and wellness bar in Carmel, is in her store a couple of days a week and offers a way to get products to the customer by delivering products personally to people around the community. She also plans to open an online shopping option for customers as well to make ordering more accessible and easy. 

Having an online presence has been beneficial for some businesses in Carmel, such as the Cottage of Sweets and Glacier Bar because it is helping them sell products and make somewhat of a profit.

Braiker says her business is mainly membership based ,and she had to cancel many memberships due to the pandemic. With a closed store, still having to pay rent and bills with no income is extremely difficult, and she is ready to get back to work as soon as they are able. 

Kerith Harrison, owner of Coast Carmel, a clothing store in Carmel, believes that the government will implement limitations for businesses once the shelter-in-place ends and is willing to cater to their advice. 

“We will be opening the doors as soon as possible and having a large sale to make space for the new merchandise that will be arriving daily,” Harrison explains. “How we proceed will depend on how the economy bounces back.”

Business owners are eager to get back to work once the shelter-in-place is over and stores can open once again.

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