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 has 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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The Planting Protocols

Planta Highland Park

Come on in - Planta allows customers in the Highland Park store 30 minutes chunks. Owner Dan Goshin (left) and manager Nehemias de Leon Martin are ready for the upcoming fall planting season.

The Safer at Home mandate announced in mid-March sent many folks out to dig in the dirt of their backyards, add greenery to their indoor spaces and view plants as essential during pandemic times.

Now, as the fall planting season arrives, local nurseries are welcoming gardeners in a variety of pandemic-styles.

It’s by appointment only at Planta in Highland Park. People sign up for a 30 minute chunk of time to shop and there’s no more than two other customers in the store. “The store becomes your own private destination,” says Dan Goshin, owner.  “You have a chance to really engage with our manager or sales associate. You get all the attention.”

The system has worked out so well that Goshin thinks it may continue after restrictions have been lifted.

Overall, the store is about 25 percent down in sales from previous years. But Goshin adds that “we are opened two days less” and he’s in the process of expanding his online marketing with a new website.

Customers at Sunset Boulevard Nursery in Silver Lake have shopping options: online and phone-in along with pick-up services. And, a limited number of customers are allowed onsite to shop in the open-air store.

“We used to have three entrances so we had to create one way in and one way out,” says owner Dennis Kuga who adds that he also moved the check-out outdoors “where there’s fresh air and ventilation.”

Admitting that the first two months were “tough,” Kuga says that interest and sales picked up in May. He’s happy he didn’t have to lay off any employees.

“Our sales are up but it’s a different kind of up,” he says. “People are buying more house plants and pots.”

“It’s been a roller coaster, and we are lucky to have a strong team,” says Nicole Calhoun owner of Artemisia Nursery in El Sereno.  

Struggling to provide a safer environment for customers, Calhoun decided that the store will be all online shopping and curbside pick-up – a system that worked well. Calhoun says that customers connect with her and her staff on the phone, via email and at the curbside to discuss plant options and answer questions. She also offers consultation services to help gardeners with very specific questions and needs.

“We did experience a big bump in the spring,” says Calhoun describing people stuck at home wanting to explore gardening.  “But now this summer during the hot weather and with more people out of work, our sales have dropped off,” she says. “We are going to ride it through and see what happens.”

Both Calhoun and Goshin describe soil as an often hard-to-come by supply item. "And pots," adds Goshin who has discovered other pottery vendors because of the shortage and high demand. "I say about 80 percent of all our pottery is from new vendors," he says.

Poll: What's your favorite California native plant?

You voted:

Biz Buzz Asks: How's Business?

We asked the question to Haley Solar, owner of Haley Solar clothing store.

how's business haley solar

 is at 4606 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock and 3318 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake.

What size are you?

Do you know your digital footprint? Did you know you had one?

A new workshop series, Grow with Google, will help California small businesses grow their digital footprints.

The workshop launches Sept.22 and is a partnership with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) operating within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

Dates and topics for the "Grow with Google" workshop series include:

  • 09/22/2020: Get Your Local Business on Google Search and Maps: Learn about Google My Business – 10:00 AM PT A free tool for local businesses who want to connect with customers on Google Search and Maps. Get hands-on help creating or updating your business profile or a simple website.
  • 09/24/2020: Ponga su negocio local en Google Search y Maps - 10:00 AM PT Explore Google My Business, una herramienta gratuita para empresas que desean conectarse con clientes en Google Search y Maps.
  • 09/30/2020: Make Your Website Work for You - 10:00 AM PT In this presentation, learners will discover how to create a search-friendly website that drives user action and supports their goals. Whether launching a new website or sprucing up an old one, this workshop will help.
  • 10/07/2020: Use YouTube to Grow Your Business - 10:00 AM PT Get best practices for creating a YouTube Channel and compelling video content that promotes your products and services and drives engagement with your brand.

 Go here to register

A lifeline for breweries

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved a new grant program directed at breweries and other small businesses that have remained closed or restricted by LA County health orders.

The new $10 million grant program aims to support local breweries that are struggling. Breweries in Tier 1 counties have been allowed open under the State’s health order if they partner with a food service.  LA County orders, however, continue to keep breweries that do not qualify as restaurants closed for on-site service as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

The funding for the grant comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act federal funding allocated to LA County.

Other small businesses – including wineries, family entertainment centers and card rooms – that have remained closed or face substantial operating restrictions because of the health orders are eligible for the grant. Priority will be given to those small businesses that are under the more stringent LA County restrictions.

Gym Owners Want Back In

An association of gym owners thinks it’s time to bring back indoor fitness – and they are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County health officials to make it happen.

The California Fitness Alliance (CFA) wants Californians to have safe and equitable access to indoor fitness centers, arguing that the physical and mental health benefits will boost their resilience to COVID-19.

In a recent complaint filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, the CFA asks that Newsom’s stay-at-home order be ended and that a judge find that county officials abused their discretion to allow fitness centers to re-open after the July 13 closure order.

In addition to impacting the thousands of fitness employees, the CFA says the shutdown adversely affects those disadvantaged and minority communities who do not have access to outdoor exercise.

CFA has worked with Newsom’s office and state health officials to detail how indoor fitness centers can safely reopen.

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

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Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

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