Holiday Season Blues?
The holidays are right around the corner. How is your business approaching the gift giving season? How are you ramping up or ramping down? What uncertainties are you facing? Let me know!
-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor
Contact me at brenda@TheEastsiderLA.com
Cycling through the pandemic
Back in March, just as the lockdown kicked into gear across Los Angeles, Echo Park bike shop owner Megan Guerra contracted COVID-19, an experience she does not want anyone to go through.
“I thought I was going to die," said Guerra. "It was ten days of hell."
The small shop was closed for about a month during the early weeks of the pandemic. But as Guerra recovered from COVID, she formulated sanitation protocols and touch free payment options for bike sales and repairs.
The shop is more than just bikes. She and co-owner Brent Sutton started the bike sales and repair shop five years ago; it combined their love of community with their cycling passion.
“Kids pop in after school to eat snacks from the gas station, dog walkers drop in for dog treats and elderly neighbors just come for hugs,” she says. “The thought of passing on something so harmful to any of our community was terrifying.”
High wheel demand
Once back in the shop, Guerra, Sutton and staff were hit with crowds of new customers wanting to purchase a new bike. Between April and July, bike sales nationwide were 81% higher than in the same period in 2019, according to New York-based market research firm NPD Group.
As a specialty shop – they recently outfitted a customer for his first Ironman Triathlon – a big focus is advocating cycles as transportation. “Brent and I are exclusively bike commuters,” says Guerra who doesn’t have a driver's’ license.
While Guerra is pleased that more people are either discovering or rediscovering the joys of cycling as commuting, competition and camaraderie; the biggest challenge currently is that bicycle retailers across the country are finding a tight supply chain from China in addition to the tariff burden.
“Those tariffs adversely affected many small businesses, not just our industry,” says Guerra. “We just need to ride out this storm and look ahead.”
Overall, the shop has seen a dramatic increase in repairs.
“People rightly invested in their happiness [early on] by buying or fixing up their old bikes,” explains Guerra. “It was something safe and pleasurable they could still do in the midst of all this fresh chaos.”
POLL: Describe your cycling persona
Biz Buzz Asks: How's Business?
We posed the question to Laura Howe, owner of Matrushka Boutique in Silver Lake.
Matrushka is located at 2209 W Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake.
One Stop for L.A. Small Biz Help
Resources, services, grants and loans …. so many different programs are available to small business owners that it can make your head spin.
Check out the small business guide pulled together by L.A. Controller Ron Galperin that outlines what assistance is being offered to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis at the federal, state and local levels.
Keep raising those glasses
Sure, Americans are drinking more at home as the pandemic continues to upend daily lives. But booze makers are seeing a decline in sales across the United States. Why? According to a recent Wall Street Journal articles, restaurant accounts for 20 percent of sales nationwide, and their sales are way down under emergency orders that limit their capacity.
Overall, wine, beer and spirits are experiencing unsettling numbers, with big industry players bemoaning a lack of bar and restaurant sales.
Take a Survey, (maybe) Win $100
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to hear about you and your business and how it can improve articles and event programming to be informative and useful for small businesses.
Take a brief survey (it should take less than five minutes to complete) and you will be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card.
Go ahead. Let ‘em know what you think!
Accidents, Body Shops and L.A. Traffic
In March, cars sat idle at home as Angelenos began sheltering at home – which meant fewer car accidents and traffic collisions. According to the Crosstown blog, so far this year, L.A. has seen a 41% drop in accidents – which translates into better insurance rates, but is also hurting the body shop business. New data suggests that traffic collisions may be climbing again (holiday travel?).
One thing that has not changed is where accidents happen in the greater Los Angeles area. The most collisions happen Downtown, followed by Van Nuys and Westlake.
That’s it for this issue!
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 has closed? Let us know. We want to better understand how the national economics are affecting our local community.
We will be back next week with more Biz Buzz.
-- Brenda Rees