Dog Days of Pandemic Hitting Small Businesses

After months of waiting for phased reopenings, many San Diego County small businesses are now struggling for customers

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Months of huge unemployment numbers coupled with new concerns about rising COVID-19 cases in San Diego County has small business owners wondering how long they can withstand the financial toll of the pandemic.

Troy Arthur purchased San Diego Jump Company, an inflatable play structure company, back in 2004 and withstood the great recession without much concern because people were still celebrating birthday parties and holding church gatherings.

Today the 57-year-old small business owner is packing up his 3,000-square-foot warehouse and putting 75% of his inflatables up for auction as a last ditch effort to survive the coming months.

"What am I going to do? I'm not quite sure. I'm putting it into God's hand and he's going to bless us with what he feels we need and we will move forward that way" said Arthur.

Arthur used to deliver 20 to 30 large inflatables to events on any given weekend, but now he is lucky if he gets 1 or 2 orders per weekend.

The tough decisions come at a time when many small business owners had figured to be getting back on their feet again.

Public House 131, a restaurant and bar in Scripps Ranch, reopened their doors to in-house dining customers several weeks back and noticed an immediate surge of customers who seemed excited to get back to normal.

But, manager Michelle Melendez said the crowds have tapered off and the restaurant's profits are down at least 40%.

"Just trying to keep this place open, I think that's everyone's biggest worry right now," said Melendez.

Thanks to government assistance, many small business owners were able to stay afloat with hopes of a summer rebound, but now as those funds disappear the "dog days" of the pandemic are settling in.

Arthur said his unemployment funds will run out at the end of the month.

Melendez has a different problem as she tries to get some of her employees back to work for less money than what unemployment offers.

"As a server you work for your tips, so if you don't have the same amount of customers you did before, you're not going to make those tips anymore, so a lot of people have chosen to stay home because they're making more on unemployment" said Melendez.

Restaurants are now operating at less capacity, with increased cleaning procedures and less hours, all of which can slow down service.

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