Small business owners forced to make tough decisions amid the pending crisis

Patriot staff member witnesses how small businesses are affected

Kate Gromacki, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Monday March 23 was a frightening day for Maryland small business owners. At 11:00 AM, Governor Larry Hogan addressed the state live with new Coronavirus protocol.   Among the new regulations was the order closing all “unnecessary businesses.” The kicker: by 5:00 pm that day.
While many could have expected this outcome, no one can truly predict the effect it will have on small businesses across the state, and eventually, the country.
Unlike the corporate world, many small local businesses lack the financial cushion to optimally support themselves throughout an economic crisis that comes with a virus like COVID-19. Many economists are comparing the economic potential of this virus to the 2008 recession.
According to the Huffington Post, the United States faced more than 170,000 small businesses closures between the years 2008 and 2010 as stated by the Business Journals of U.S. Census Bureau data. The Post also recounts the fall of entrepreneurship and self-employed Americans during the recession.
Due to current closure, small businesses especially are facing the struggle of laying off workers. As stated by Bloomberg Business, “the restaurant industry alone is set to lose 7.4 million jobs” due to the Coronavirus.
In an effort to prevent small businesses and their owners from closing for good, the federal government is working through the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) to design an appropriate rescue package.
Local small business owner Kathi Gromacki is the owner of the Nest on Main Bel Air, a home goods boutique on Bel Air’s Main Street. “I’m glad there was a definitive decision because I was on the border of doing what I need to do and what I should do” remarked Mrs. Gromacki about Governor Hogan’s address.
In order to adapt to the current economic situation, Mrs. Gromacki had to make some changes and tough choices. This started with delaying pending shipments of inventory, such as her new bath and body brand, Dot & Lil. She then had to turn to her employees. “Currently, my employees are not scheduled to work because the business has stopped, and the current amount of business that I do have, I can handle on my own,” explained Mrs. Gromacki.
The biggest step has been entering the digital market.  “Going online is not something I planned to do,” remarked Mrs. Gromacki. One of her trademarks is her business’ specialty customer service, and she fears that she will not be able to convey this through a website. “I do not want to sell all of my products online. Some of my vendors do not allow me to sell their products online,” Mrs. Gromacki added.  “However now I think [going online] is something I have missed, and I’m currently working on a way to bring The Nest online in a way that reflects my brand and services well.”
Many small businesses are now faced with situations similar to Mrs. Gromacki. She remarked that a positive to her business has been her “conservative mindset” towards the finances of the business, yet many small businesses across America do not find themselves in this situation. The fear of not knowing when “unnecessary businesses” will be allowed to reopen is heavy among these local entrepreneurs, old and new.