Keeping Track of Small Businesses

Many small businesses are calling it quits -- but it's hard to track actual numbers. Have you heard of a small business on the Eastside that have closed? Let us know. We want to better understand how the national economics are affecting our local community.

-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor

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State of the NELA Repair Service

George's Shoe Repair

Service repair shops -- like George Boiadjian's shoe repair shop in Eagle Rock -- are experiencing pandemic highs and lows when it comes to customers.

It’s an industry trying to hold on – and the pandemic isn’t helping matters at all.

Pre-pandemic, some small repair and restoration services had been witnessing a slow decline in customers given the cheap nature of new products. Why repair that old watch when you can buy a new one at a good price?

We wondered: Has the pandemic sent residents exiled at home to explore their closets, storage units, and garages, searching for family gems that need extra expert attention? The answer: yes and no.

“We were expecting more people coming in requesting transfer services,” admits Daniel Parseghian, owner of AV Transfer House. He had anticipated large numbers of individual customers coming in with old videos, films, photos and more, but that never materialized. “It was no more than pre-pandemic times,” he adds.

A renewed interest from younger people in mid-century modern pieces helps keep owner Benjamin Argumedo busy at Golden B.A. Custom Upholstery Shop in Highland Park.

“Business has slowed down a bit because of the pandemic,” explains Argumedo, “but we still get customers here and there. It helps we have been around for a long time and have a good reputation.”

George Boiadjian, owner of George’s Shoe Comfort and Repair in Eagle Rock, points out his shoe repair business has practically dried up because people are not going into their offices or heading out for fancy dinners or meetings.

“Working shoes, construction shoes, we do some of them, but not so many,” he says adding that customers come into his shop now mainly for watch repairs and getting keys copies. His luggage repair service? “Not good at all,” he says. “People aren’t traveling as much.”

“I’ve got my hands full these days,” says Jared Everett, owner of Double Needle Denim Repair in Highland Park. Customers ask for alterations to “keep their favorite jeans alive,” as well as to address “fluctuating COVID weight gain and loss.”

Even though Nomadic Guitar’s Echo Park location reopened a few weeks ago and started repairs, owner Steve Sherak has an extensive list of names of folks wanting instrument repairs. When the pandemic closed everything down in March, Sherak kept a detailed list of customers – he’s now getting back in touch.

“The majority of these clients so far have waited and didn’t go elsewhere,” he says, adding that customers appreciate Sherak’s new proactive steps for drop-off and service. “It’s a slower way of working and we won’t be able to do quick turnarounds, but people want us and their instruments to be safe.”

Echo Park bike shop owner Megan Guerra is also keeping busy with repairs. 

“Despite having worked in bike shops for over 20 and 30 years each, [we] were not prepared for the influx of so many new customers,” says Guerra of Revenge Fantasy Cycles.

Repairs at the store are up, and she cites an overall bike shortage (many brands the victim of Chinese tariffs) as well as “sometimes a new bike just isn't a good idea when people have economic uncertainty. People [are] rightly investing in their happiness by buying or fixing up their old bikes.”

Poll: What item have you recently taken to a repair shop?

You voted:

Biz Buzz Asks: How’s business these days?

We asked the question Lino Campos, owner of The Cream Shop in Boyle Heights.

How's Business Lino Campos The Cream Shop.jpg

The Cream Shop is at 2045 East Cesar Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights

Show ‘em you’re certified

Let customers know you care – and that you are up-to-date with public health safety directives.

Los Angeles County recently announced a new COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certificate program to educate and train business owners about protocols for infection control and physical distancing. The program is voluntary, but can provide extra reassurance and commitment to customers and employees.

After completing the training (available in 13 languages through the Department of Health), business owners will receive a certificate that can be proudly posted in the store.

Going back to the nest

The pandemic economy is altering living arrangements – with many younger adults finding their way back to their childhood rooms and living with mom and dad. According to research from Pew, 52% of young adults in the United States lived with at least one of their parents in July. That number surpasses the previous record of 48% which was set in 1940.

Researchers speculate that maybe more young adults bunked with their parents during the Great Depression of the 30s – but no one was recording data at that time.

More help for California small businesses

Last week, Governor Newsom signed bills into law which aim to support small businesses dealing with the challenges of the pandemic.

Of particular note are two bills: AB1577 (Burke) which allows small businesses to exclude PPP Loans from state taxes; and SB1447 (Bradford, Caballero and Cervantes) which will create a Main Street Hiring Tax Credit.

Overall, California is home to 4.1 million small businesses which employs 7.2 million workers, or 48.5 percent of the state’s total workforce.

A recent Small Business Majority survey suggests that up to 44 percent of businesses are at risk of shutting down, with minority-owned businesses disproportionately impacted.

Crime risks rise for delivery workers

Delivery folks in Los Angeles are facing more risks these days as they often are key providers for stay-at-home residents who rely on services for everything from essentials to pet food to groceries and more.

In the first seven months of the year, 58 delivery personnel have been the victim of a crime, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. In the same period last year, there were only 33 incidents.

But Los Angeles is not alone, reports research from Crosstown blog. Delivery workers have seen a rise in attacks in other cities; Amazon drivers have reported increasing altercations in cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco and Gary.

That’s it for this issue!

Stay inside as much as you can! Wear your mask outside and keep supporting small businesses! We will be back next week with more Biz Buzz.

-- Brenda Rees

Connect With Your Chamber of Commerce

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East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Echo Park Chamber of Commerce

Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

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