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As costs mount, small businesses fight to survive

Original post made on Apr 17, 2020

Small businesses throughout the Midpeninsula are facing painful decisions as they seek to weather the increasingly perilous and complex economic climate.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 17, 2020, 6:53 AM

Comments (50)

6 people like this
Posted by Essential VS Non-Essential
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:57 am

The shutdown of countless 'non-essential' businesses will create innumerable economic hardships for various owners & their employees.

And once the COVID-19 ebbs, the road to economic recovery will be slow in its resumption...in fact, there will be a major recession/depression of sorts with lingering effects.

That said & though we have been customer's at Gleims since Arthur owned & operated stores in both Palo Alto & Los Altos, jewelry is a LUXURY item and the same can be said of high-end hair salons, exclusive restaurants & automobile dealers who sell LUXURY cars.

In other words, BASIC access to food, shelter, proper medical care & transportation should remain the essential priorities in surviving this current pandemic.


33 people like this
Posted by Trumped
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:38 am

[Post removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:07 am

Tragic. Hey PA City Council: How about focusing some of your energy on creative solutions to help these businesses, instead of musing about road closures and traffic enforcement.


10 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:58 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Scooter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 12:17 pm

@Trumped - The stimulus package passed 96-0 in the Senate and by voice vote in the House. If you have a problem with its contents, take it up with your senators and local representative. They voted for it.

If you’re so concerned about helping American workers, you might want to contact those very same senators and representative to pass the pending extension to the Paycheck Protection Program.


15 people like this
Posted by @What will they do next?
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:09 pm

[Post removed; off topic.]


5 people like this
Posted by Esther
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:12 pm

From the FTC today: Alert for small business owners needing PPP loans, Web Link

"This is an alert for small business owners who are looking to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”). The loans help alleviate the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but there are bad actors trying to get business owners to apply for the wrong program. . . . "


23 people like this
Posted by kathwun
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Not one person in the government has addressed the personal care business, except to say that they are non-essential and to shut the doors.
As the only Barber Shop in Midtown (8 years strong), we have a high rent, no income, and are going through our savings to try to stay afloat. It looks like this might be the end for us...We have tried everything possible as a work around; the management won't discount or cancel our rent for the shop, our apartment management wants full rent, as well, all utilities, internet, etc., are still going to have to be paid while we are closed indefinitely.
It's been real Palo Alto; hate to say goodbye, but GOODBYE!


21 people like this
Posted by No rent relief for Small Biz?
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:25 pm

@Kathwun, I truly feel for you, the fact that your landlord offers zero assistance is deplorable. We own a rental property and gave our tenant a 20% reduction as her pay has been reduced. I offered my hair stylist advance payment for next haircut/highlights. We mailed a check to our housecleaners. Is there any way your customers can-pre pay to keep you going for another month or two? Obviously far more challenging if you have employees. As a landlord I would much prefer taking reduced or postponed rent rather than lose a good tenant. Many of the commercial property owners are also taking advantage of Prop 13, they can well afford to give their tenants a break. A barber shop would seem ideal place to start to re-open May 1, allow one customer at a time, sanitize the area, you wear PPE, prohibit customers with symptoms. I hope you find a solution. We need small businesses in our community.


16 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:53 pm

This is about small businesses surviving the pandemic, not politics.


5 people like this
Posted by Not All In This Together
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:23 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:26 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


10 people like this
Posted by @(so-called) Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:32 pm

And once again, the poster from Midtown puts out material that makes no sense whatsoever.

Let's get something straight, sport: We're in the middle of a pandemic. If we take the actions you call for, the death toll in Santa Clara County will be in high hundreds. Are you willing to advocate for that to happen?

Your rights do not include putting my life at risk. Period.


18 people like this
Posted by got all the story?
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:39 pm

@Trumped
Give me a break , this multi-trillion "bailout" was authored by Dems and Republicans in congress !! They reached a compromise to quickly help rescue the economy. How is this Trumps bailout???

Also , our Governor Newsom is the one who implemented draconian shutdown of the state. So far 22 million across America, yes million people filed for unemployment insurance the last month the result of governors like Cuomo and Newsom.

So we have 22 million of which countless of their lives are ruined , need to question the actions by out GOVERNORS if they are making the right tradeoffs, bludgeoning the economy. Hey California you voted for him live with the consequences!!


5 people like this
Posted by got all the story?
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:58 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by @Barron Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Hey spanky -- the Palo Alto Online website has the right to determine who gets to post on its site, and what is allowed (or not allowed).

Don't like it? Find a website more to your liking, and post there.

Another thing -- you want this pandemic to get worse? If you open up everything before you have enough test kits available to find people infected with COVID-19, that's what you will get. Of course,-45 doesn't care about that...


21 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:12 pm

Many voters and politicians think that businesses have vaults full of gold and an army of personnel to deal with whatever restrictions, forms, procedures, or taxes that can be dreamt up. That may be true for large outfits but for most, it's the opposite. The upcoming depression is going to reveal that a lot of valued stores and services were just barely making it.

Politicians give lip service to small business but unfortunately barely anyone in office really cares about them.


5 people like this
Posted by got all the story?
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:19 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by @Barron Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:24 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:27 pm

[Post removed. Off topic.]


Posted by Newsom - 83% approval; Trump stuck at 46%
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Apr 17, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


10 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 17, 2020 at 7:39 pm

Hope my dentist is still here next month. Due for cleaning and x-rays. They have plenty of catch-up work after canceling everyone in March and April and half of May.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 17, 2020 at 7:40 pm

I read the excellent article which raised a lot of questions for me that I'd hoped to discuss here. However, I don't see how you can discuss this topic without getting into local, state and federal policy, esp. since one major issues is how big business and big real estate investors are getting helped and heard.

Look at the makeup of all the various commissions, whether it's the Silicon Valley one, the CA one or the Feds.

All of the deletions make it ridiculously hard to follow this discussion. Too bad. It's a critical issue.


15 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 9:14 am

Palo Alto (and the county) should immediately cancel all non-essential payments, consultancies, and activities and trim its workforce of non-essential staff (like layers of publicity, social justice advocates, etc and create a fund to assist the small businesses that make Palo Alto the community it is. That fund could be augmented with private contributions and any possible grants, etc. Small business could then request grants to help them bridge this crisis. The city should also suspend some taxation and fees.
This virus brings us to a question of whether we want all the fluff and waste that our city and schools are known to spend or redirect those funds to help keep our community together. It's drastic but these are serious times and the city needs to respond with more than restraints - it needs to pull its available resources together and act.
Someone with a REALLY sharp pencil and determination could find the means to help our local businesses. The times calls for the city to step up.


6 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:14 am

P.S. How about something like the Christmas fund on steroids? How about the City ordering 10,000 T-shirts printed with something honoring Palo Alto's Best and the City and local clubs encouraging everyone to buy one - or 5? Maybe the firemen can donate their chili sauce proceeds. Whatever the mix of programs, it should be set up to provide supplemental support to local businesses for as long as necessary. With the city taking the lead, the citizens can save our local news shops, florists, beer joints, cafes, clothiers and gourmet tofu whatnots.


18 people like this
Posted by Shameful
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:31 am

Summerwinds Nursery was taking phone orders and bringing items to people!s cars, it was perfect and much needed for many. Apparently someone complained and the Sheriff shut them down, now they can only make deliveries. This severely limits their business and is absolutely ridiculous. And if anyone is aware of a way to help change this please say so, I will gladly get involved and help.

We need to open things back up. Perhaps not to the full extent that it was before but for gods sake, use some common sense and let these businesses stay afloat!


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:26 am

George... We don't live in Palo Alto, but I grew up there. I can't tell if you're being facetious, but I'd be willing to buy several t-shirts and even some chili sauce. Support local businesses!


10 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:58 am

I was serious Jennifer, Thanks. I was trying to imagine the whole town keeping our businesses going.

Last idea: Add a page to the City's website so that local merchants could silent auction goods and services to the highest bidder. We could set a Guinness record for the highest price ever for a salami sub sandwich, delivered of course. "$5000 sets new world record for bicycle toe clips". Etc.


8 people like this
Posted by Competence and Honesty
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 1:36 pm

"Neither program, however, has rolled out as planned. The National Federation of Independent Businesses reported that about half of small businesses it had surveyed applied for the disaster-relief program. Just 4% had been approved and 1% were not approved. No one had received any money as of April 9, according to the association.

"Most applicants of the (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) have yet to receive an update on the statuses of their application, and no small businesses have received the loan or the emergency grant," the federation reported. "

Question: Where did the money go? I've read the above statements many times, but nowhere do I see an analysis of how many businesses the money could have funded, and what businesses got the money. Shouldn't it have been determined how the funds allocated could do the most good for the greatest number of businesses?

Competence and honesty matter. Right now, we have a government run by people for whom those are dirty words. Again, where did the money go? Who is watching out if the watchdogs have been fired?

I hope the 4th estate will figure out the answer to those questions in time to save our amazing local businesses.


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm

George... awesome! I'm glad you were being serious. Not all towns could pull something like that off, but Palo Alto can, especially a silent auction. I think this is a wonderfully creative and supportive idea, and if anything gets started, count me in!


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:47 pm

I think after this pandemic we will realize that we really don't need a lot of the little businesses around town.
I gave my sons and husband wonderful haircuts with a pair of scissors and razor.
In fact, their cuts look better than when we paid for them. All I did was watch one you tube video on how to do it.
We've never used dry cleaning since it uses dangerous chemicals. We launder and iron our own shirts at home because it is more sanitary.
We have been making Mexican food, Asian food, and healthy American food at home. now, and the leftovers last for lunches the next day.
We brew our own coffee, lemonade, and iced tea at home.
Our credit card bills have gone down considerably.
My parents told me that they never ate out in the 40's-50's in the Bay Area and Palo Alto. So we can go back to the old ways and survive. It reduces the waste from fast food take-away and saves money.
I'm sorry for the small businesses like bars restaurants dry cleaners nail salons and barbers. Thankfully we have the best community colleges in the state, and it is never too late to go back to school. Enroll for online summer courses and plan out your new career.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park

>> Tragic. Hey PA City Council: How about focusing some of your energy on creative solutions to help these businesses, instead of musing about road closures and traffic enforcement.

Very weird either/or. You know, we can help small businesses, and, have traffic enforcement. In fact, the two often go together. Traffic enforcement can be *good* for small business? Small businesses in retail areas often benefit from quieter and more pedestrian-friendly surroundings.


8 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:10 pm

We filed for the SBA PPP small business grant and were issued a Number, My Bank(Wells Fargo) told me that NO small business PPP loans/Grants were issued yet, the $350 Billion dollars is already gone with just a possibility they might have another round of funding. has yet.
here is what Senator McCarthy said a week ago..
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., touted on Sunday the benefits that small businesses will receive under the massive stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week.

“For the small business owner, we want to make sure we're keeping people employed,” McCarthy said during an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “And if you are a small business, 500 employees to just a gig worker yourself, you get a guaranteed loan from the government for two and a half times your payroll if you use that money to pay your employees.”

McCarthy added: “If you already laid them off, bring them back and pay them. Pay your rent, pay your utilities. And that is forgiven…. This is critical to get us through the next two months and get this economy coming back.”


We have received No help at this point.


6 people like this
Posted by I Believe Tara Reade
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 18, 2020 at 8:33 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by I Believe Tara Reade
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 19, 2020 at 12:04 pm


I didn’t think it would be possible for me to despise the media more than I did two months ago. I was wrong.


4 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 19, 2020 at 1:13 pm


> "Thankfully we have the best community colleges in the state, and it is never too late to go back to school. Enroll for online summer courses and plan out your new career."

Boy there's some solid advice.


8 people like this
Posted by Competence and Honesty
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 1:11 am

"We filed for the SBA PPP small business grant and were issued a Number, My Bank(Wells Fargo) told me that NO small business PPP loans/Grants were issued yet, the $350 Billion dollars is already gone with just a possibility they might have another round of funding. has yet."

Seriously, is anyone questioning where is the money and who it went to? This just doesn't smell right. Is it incompetence or graft from Washington, or both? Where did the money go?


2 people like this
Posted by Blame Fauci
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:57 am

[Post removed; off topic.]


15 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 20, 2020 at 11:30 am

It is clearly time to start discussions regarding how we begin relaxing virus-related restrictions and get people back to work. Joblessness has been shooting up, businesses large and small have been collapsing, and people have started thinking long and hard about what the future holds.

The longer this lockdown goes on, we will have to deal with more deaths, divorces and unemployment-related social upheaval caused by shutdown-related stress. This is a recipe for disaster.

Let's start talking about getting people back to work before it is too late.


6 people like this
Posted by @Bill
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Sure, let's go ahead and open up businesses again (like they will be in Georgia this week).

And when the second pandemic wave hits, as it is bound to happen -- THEN what?

What will your plan be then? And will you volunteer to dig the graves of those that died?


7 people like this
Posted by Shameful
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:06 pm

@ @bill let me ask a question then. Exactly how long do you think people can continue to go without having an income? How long can our society....our farms, our towns, our cities, our PEOPLE, continue with no commerce, no production of goods and services?

This CANNOT continue. We MUST start to look at ways to open back up.

So [portion removed] let’s have some rational intelligent discussions about how we can start to open back up.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Bill,

Posted by Bill, a resident of Los Altos

>> It is clearly time to start discussions regarding how we begin relaxing virus-related restrictions and get people back to work.


Sure, absolutely. Let's talk.

>> The longer this lockdown goes on, we will have to deal with more deaths, divorces and unemployment-related social upheaval caused by shutdown-related stress. This is a recipe for disaster. Let's start talking about getting people back to work before it is too late.

It sounds like you have come to a conclusion. Are you willing to consider an alternate hypothesis? Because, some economists have looked at the 1918-1919 flu epidemic. The economic impact is real, and significant. But, from the paper:

"Altogether, our evidence implies that pandemics are highly disruptive for economic activity. However, timely measures that mitigate the severity of the pandemic may also reduce the severity of the persistent economic downturn. That is, NPIs can reduce mortality while at the same time being economically beneficial."

Web Link

The cost of curtailed economic activity is high, but, the cost of a more severe pandemic may be even higher.


4 people like this
Posted by @Shameful
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:18 pm

[Portion removed.]

IF we are to open up the economy, we MUST have a lot more testing kits available, so that we can do an ACTUAL testing regime -- not what we have now, where testing is (largely) done on people showing clear symptoms. And we need to test as many people as possible, since it is a well established fact that people not showing symptoms of COVID-19 can, in fact, be carriers of the virus. And we DEFINITELY need a protocol of tracing people who may have been in contact with people carrying the COVID-19 virus.

Otherwise, we win be facing a situation much like the Spanish flu, where there outbreaks from 1918 to 1920.

If you cannot support a plan like this, that is totally on you.


2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Posted by Shameful, a resident of Mountain View

>> This CANNOT continue. We MUST start to look at ways to open back up.

@Shameful:

Sure, let's >>look<< . But, if the -rational-, -science based- conclusion isn't fast enough and open enough for you, are you willing to accept that? What if even -economists- who don't particularly care if your grandfather dies early, conclude that, strictly economically, it is better to proceed very carefully? Are you willing to accept that?


8 people like this
Posted by DTNResident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2020 at 11:57 pm

No, we must close the businesses to cut our carbon footprint! And we should close all city services to citizens to maintain our services to non citizens. We've been virtue signalling for the last 50 years, I fail to see why we should stop now. And let's increase city salaries while were at it, there is no union salary that is too high. Isn't that what you've been telling us for 50 years?

The business downtown will mostly fail, but we can just cut more city services so that we can keep up what is most important: endless virtue signaling. We need to increase the minimum wage and how about a Business Improvement District where all the businesses are taxed so that homeless people can be given yellow T shirts and hired for astronomical wages to pick up bits of paper by hand and sweep the dirt to one side of the parking garages, then the other, because it is never actually removed. Oh wait, we already have that! What? You didn't realize? No wonder you thought a business tax was a good idea: you've been kept in the dark.

Meanwhile, the barber shop had his business closed down to help all of us stop the spread, while we did NOTHING for his costs. Keep paying your rent on a building you can't use to help all of us survive. We all get the benefit, you pay 100% of the costs, we wouldn't want to inconvenience your landlord! We'll cut your income, but not your landlord's!

And in a few months when I'm standing in the middle of an empty downtown/midtown/everywhere else, I'll wonder where all the businesses went, while thinking up more do-gooder ways to spend other people's money! I'm so progressive!


8 people like this
Posted by Shameful
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2020 at 12:17 am

@Anon, well, my grandparents are long gone and both of my 80-yr old parents have flat out told me that if it means they’re going to be exposed to a virus that theyll potentially die from they would rather that then see 90% of our population going down just to keep them safe. I love my parents. They have a harsh yet realistic view of life and consequences. They come from the depression era and know what it’s like. They’re realistic, pragmatic and tougher than any of the Privileged pampered people here!

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Posted by DTNResident, a resident of Downtown North

>> Meanwhile, the barber shop had his business closed down to help all of us stop the spread, while we did NOTHING for his costs.

We should help the barbershop. But, we have to be careful how we help big business. I want Tesla and Ford to stay in business, keep employing people, and get back to building electric cars as fast as possible. I don't want to give a dime to the rich, super-rich, and top managers who get "bonuses" even when the (real) economy is nosediving. The top 20% can watch out for themselves-- it is the bottom 80% who need our help.

>> I'll wonder where all the businesses went, while thinking up more do-gooder ways to spend other people's money! I'm so progressive!

So far, in NYC, about 15,000 people have died. Web Link. And, I take it, you >>prefer<< that to having barber shops, restaurants, and entertainment shut down? Let's be clear here. Because we do have choices ahead. And, again, I also note that the economists have found that in the 1918-1919 "Kansas" flu, more costly and extreme short-term closures paid off economically long-term. That may not happen again, but, I keep repeating it because people just assume, without proof, that reopening early -must- be better economically. But, there is no proof of that, and, it isn't how it worked previously.

So, sure, count me in as a "do-gooder". What's the opposite of a "do-gooder"? A "money-is-everything"-er?


1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Conversely, you could review the actual scientific literature and see that exposure to the first wave of the 1918 flu was protective for the far more deadly second wave. Web Link

Genetic sequencing suggests the deadlier second wave had mutations in the virus genome that made it more deadly, and hence early exposure to the milder form was quite valuable.

Parallels between the two should be drawn carefully.


Like this comment
Posted by Illuminato
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2020 at 3:50 pm

From what I've gleaned in the media, it's only a matter of time until everyone gets covid-19. It's like the flu or the cold, it's here to stay. Everyone will be exposed at some point. Some people will live, some will die, and the population will eventually end up relatively immune, in that the death rate will abate. The idea with the lockdown is to try to make it so that we don't all get it at the same time and overload the hospital system, not to wipe out the virus like smallpox.

Maybe by the time I (and those close to me) get it there will be a vaccine and some sort of cure.


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