I spoke with a small business owner this morning. It was a heartbreaking story. The owner’s business is an “essential” business, so they are still open. But they rely on customers coming in for service. Because many people are afraid of venturing out, their business is down 80%.
Like most small businesses, the owner doesn’t have a giant capital reserve other than private assets like a house and cars. According to the owner, they paid the rent for this month and are taking it day by day. They can take out a SBA or personal loan to float the business, but they would have to use their personal assets as collateral. If they do that and the business never recovers, the result would be loan default and personal bankruptcy. The other choice is to close the doors at the end of the month, minimize personal expenses, and try to get a job to pay the bills. That would be tough, but at least they could maybe stave off bankruptcy. Would they ever have the money to restart the business? Maybe, but not for a while.
I suspect that this is a story being repeated thousands of times across Wisconsin and the nation. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more sustained the economic damage will be. This one owner can maybe hang on until the end of the month – if business starts to recover – but not until June.
Please, if you are still working and still have some disposable income, consider supporting some local businesses. They don’t want charity. They want customers. Be one.