The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Business Owners

Since the beginning of the novel Coronavirus many businesses have had to close down and reassess operation strategies. This has caused a domino effect for many operating in this economy. Some businesses have closed for good while others are steadily getting back to their normal business operations.

Traders Village, a flea market located in Grand Prairie is home to over 200 vendors. Many of whom have a full-time job and have been selling goods from their stalls since the village's opening in the early 70s. Following county Covid guidelines, the market was closed for 7 weeks from March to April and reopened the first week of May. Since their reopening, they have acquired more vendors. As of September the market is open to the public at 50 percent capacity. Vendors must observe new operation guidelines by minimizing their booths and tables to increase walkways to maintain the six feet distance. Masks must be worn at all times, covering the nose.

Upon my visit to the market the second week of September, I was taken aback by the number of shoppers. The market felt crowded and many were not maintaining a six feet distance as the signs encouraged. Neither were there staffers enforcing and reminding shoppers of the distancing as I witnessed at the local shopping malls.

Several vendors have expressed an enlightening experience during the pandemic, noting an increase in customers and sales. Rafael Otero, owner of furniture shop Oasis, says that he " thanks the lord" for his increased sales. Otero joined Traders Village in '91 following college graduation. " I started with one stall with only 800 dollars with a waterbed and a catalog, then I asked for more space and now I have 22 stalls," Otero said. Otero attributes his growth to his customer service and loyalty. As of October, Otero expressed that there was a decline in customers during the first week. However, he has now expanded to 23 stalls.

Although many vendors are seeing a return to regular operations, some have not recovered. Belinda Bell, owner of JSID who has been a seller since the late 90s, has seen a major drop in sales and a decrease in customers. Since the arrival of the pandemic, she has been denied small business loans, and is struggling to pay rent for the past three months. Prior to Covid, her revenue was between four to five thousand, whereas now it is fifteen hundred. As the market is only open on the weekends, she estimates that 60-80 customers will visit the shop but only 20 will make a purchase. "I've been in the business industry for 15 years and I've never suffered an impact like this," Bell said. Bell also sells clothing at the Painted Tree Marketplace in three separate locations in the DFW metroplex. Outside of retail she manages her two sons who are local rappers.

Revisiting the shop during the first week of October, Bell had expressed a possible closure of all her shops. " I reached out again asking for a small business loan and no one has gotten back to me," Bell said. Bell anticipates a rise in sales approaching the holiday season, but if she doesn't make a significant profit she will have to close down her shops indefinitely.

In light of the 2020 presidential elections, small business owners play a pivotal role in voter turnout. According to a September survey directed by Verizon's Business Solutions, out of 600 small business participants, 78% recorded a decline in sales. Another 55% are concerned with remaining open with the rising cases of Covid and the downturn of the economy. Another study conducted by Fundera, a business funding matchmaker, found that most small business owners are concerned with health insurance and immigration. President Trump's stance on healthcare includes repealing the Affordable Care Act. As of 2020 there are over 23 million Americans under this act. Vice President Biden would like to expand ACA as well as expand programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to over 97% of Americans. According to the survey, healthcare remained the top issue regardless of the party affiliations of the participants. However, many independent business owners favored Trump as the most suitable president for their small business. This same group selected Trump as the best president for taxes and job employment. In spite of these findings, the majority of participants were still indecisive on which candidate to vote for. This survey was conducted in October. Following the first presidential debate, a poll conducted by CNN revealed that 57% of likely voters supported Biden, while the remaining 41% supported Trump.