Six months later, small businesses still buckling from restrictions

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Six months since the pandemic began and many small businesses are still feeling the effects of restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Sparrow’s Shoe Repair owner, Barrington Lawrence, has felt the effects of the pandemic firsthand, over the past half year.

“It went from excellent to nothing. Nothing’s going on. They say nothing’s going on but the rent… The whole day you’re in here all day and you don’t do no business. Most of the customers are elderly and they don’t want to come out with the COVID,” said Lawrence.

And it’s been that way, since March 16, when shutdown orders in Pennysylania went into effect.

Since then:

  • More than 2.2 million in Pennsylvania have filed for unemployment.
  • The state has paid more than $25 billion in unemployment to residents.
  • The commonwealth has allocated $225 million in COVID-19 relief to small businesses.  

Even with grants and low interest loans, businesses like Scranton’s Coney Island Lunch have struggled to make ends meet. Owner Pete Ventura received a PPP loan and a grant from the city, but even that isn’t quite enough.  

“If you look at my bank account from that day when we got the first one to now we are 2,000 dollars less than what we got from them. You can’t keep doing them. I’m 65-years-old and the last thing I want to do is start pouring money into the business.”

Without a steady flow of customers for the last six months, it’s nearly impossible for a business to stay in the black.

“A restaurant sells sodas and stuff like that inside. And that’s where the money is. And you don’t sell too much of that because people mostly have soda at home or at their office so that is the real profit in the business and that’s gone,” Ventura said.

But like all small business owners, both Lawrence and Ventura are trying to remain optimistic while waiting for their customers to come back again. In less than one week, restaurants in the state can expand to 50% capacity for indoor dining.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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