Healdsburg Businesses Struggle For Stability Amidst the Pandemic
By Luci Hagen
Photo by: Harrison Threlfall
Since the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Healdsburg’s local businesses have been struggling to stay on their feet. The massive decrease in revenue by the variety of stores and the two month period of no retail receipts has caused for some businesses to spend life savings and owners to question if investing in a business that will not be able to make nearly as much of a profit as pre-coronavirus times, for months to come, is a waste of time and money.
The deadly combination of coronavirus effects, as well as those of the California wildfires, has already prompted the permanent shutting down of some of Healdsburg’s beloved businesses, including The Raven Film Center.
Many generations of Healdsburgians hold the memories made at the theater close to their hearts. “I hate to see it go… It was really nice, we were happy,” Eddinger said to an interviewer for The Healdsburg Tribune.
Maggie Trebilcock, the sophomore class president at HHS, said,“I was not surprised, [that the Raven was shutting down] it makes sense because a lot of businesses are closing, but I was really sad because that was one of the only things teens can do in Healdsburg.”
Senior Vikram Johnson said, “I was pretty upset, it was a good movie theater. But I mean Corona is doing that to a lot of businesses and it's just really sad.”
How many more businesses will Healdsburg lose to the pandemic? An uncertain question, though there have been mini breakthroughs in trying to market products for Healdsburg online. A growing number of businesses have joined the website bailouthbg.com where there are links for donations to each business, and a local shopper Caroline Coady has created the shoplocalhealdsburg.com website to show listings of stores, their online websites, where they can be found, and what they offer.
To help the struggling small businesses of Healdsburg, the city also released a Small Business Sustainability (SBS) Loan Program on Friday, April 24th, which provides 0 interest loans up to $15,000 for small businesses that apply with 25 employees or less, all to be deferred until May of 2021. The loan program has aided a large number of these small Healdsburg businesses, for example, Mr. Moons, Copperfield's Books INC, Flying Goat, Noble Folk, and The Wurst, to name a few.
However, despite this generous SBS Program and the publicizing of businesses online, there are still situations where the owners are hardly staying afloat. A storekeeper on Healdsburg Avenue is currently paying 6,000 dollars a month for rent on their shop.
“We have an online store and Instagram, so we are desperately trying to make sales to pay a few small bills. We have applied for PPP, EIDL, Healdsburg Small Business Loan and every grant that has come our direction,” says the anonymous, distressed owner.
John Dayton, the owner of Dayton and Tremont Real Estate, who manages properties for a variety of landlords in downtown Healdsburg, predicts despite the support the city has been trying to give businesses, that as much as 15% of downtown businesses could be shut down because of the pandemic. The future of Healdsburg is unknown, but hopefully the unity of the town can withstand the possibly fatal blow of these unprecedented circumstances.