Small businesses impacted during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 3:18 PM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 17:10:24-05

NORFOLK, Va. - For more than 30 years, you'd find anything from vinyl records to t-shirts and CDs at Steve Athey's Skinnies Records in Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood.

“It's all I pretty much know, and the only thing I guess I'm really qualified to do,” Athey said.

But 2020 has left a mark on Athey and other small businesses.

“I had replenished a lot of Christmastime sales and reinvested to make sure that I had plenty of the typical records that are steady sellers,” he said. “I had a few rainy day items I had to dig up and sell to make ends meet.”

Some changes Athey had to make to his store during the COVID-19 pandemic included making sure customers where gloves inside and limiting the capacity to four people at a time.

According to Harvard's Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, as of November 16, the number of small businesses open nationwide dropped by 28.9% compared to January 2020. Total small business revenue nationwide dropped by 32.1% in the same time frame.

Hampton Roads Chamber officials told News 3 they've seen many small businesses adapt to online sales to help stay afloat.

“We saw in three months about five years' worth of technological change for small businesses,” Hampton Roads Chamber VP of Small Business Jim Carroll said.

Carroll added the pandemic’s impacts have been psychological for many small business owners.

“A lot of business owners identify personally with their business, and when their business fails, then they view that as a personal failure,” he said.

Chamber officials believe this holiday shopping weekend is crucial for local business.

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“Just in a normal year, small businesses count on the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve,” he said.

Meanwhile, Athey's secret to staying strong is simple.

“Persistence,” he said. “Trying to make the best of it.”

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