Written By Stacy Fisch
Small businesses around campus are feeling the effects of last week’s shutdown. While local businesses are taking a hit in revenue like they never did before. However, they are not going anywhere.
Before the shutdown, Camie, the owner of Orquidea Bodega near the Avenue H Q train station, had seen a decrease in customers due to the closing of the nearby Mosque and Church. Orquidea caters primarily to BC students, and without them, the deli is in turmoil.
“Two days passed, and 75% is already out of business. I’m dealing with residuals right now,” says Camie, who says 90% of students are customers of her deli. “I have no business, and it’s killing me.”
Camie is presently in the process of a loan, which will take a week or so to get approved. Mayor de Blasio granted small businesses that have seen a sales decrease of 25% with fewer than 100 employees a loan of up to $75,000. Camie is appreciative of the assistance; however, the City is not helping as fast as she needs help. She requires money in the meantime to purchase supplies.
“If you come to me and ask for a bacon egg and cheese I’ll tell you I can’t give you it, I don’t have the money to buy it,” Camie said. “At the same time, we are not getting that much money to invest in.”
Most shop owners like Camie want to increase profits by upgrading products, renovation, or renewing licenses. Unfortunately, she just spent $5,000 on changing her ice coffee station, which she claimed things like these are very expensive. She doesn’t like that she spent so much money on something that is hardly being used.
Before Camie applied for the loan, it pained her to see her seven-year business die within two days of the CUNY shut down. The loss of revenue is affecting her small staff of three to get paid.
“It’s really putting me into pain. I have to reduce the staff because I can’t keep the staff, even though they are my kids.”
Despite the pandemic and BC closures, Camie understands that she needs to wait for everything to blow over. However, it is difficult because she never underwent a situation like this before.
“As business owners, we are the one who gets the blow,” she continues, “we have to buy, we need to keep going.”
Mario & Maria is a family-run Mexican style food truck located on Bedford Avenue. They too are feeling the effects of the campus closure.
“If the high school is still open, we should be fine,” says Susana Rojas, daughter of Mario & Maria. Rojas has been working there for three years and admitted that they serve around or more than 100 students a day, but Thursday was slow. She is expecting business to decrease throughout the rest of the semester or until the confirmed coronavirus cases in New York decrease. “It will get less and less [busy] as it progresses.”
The Rojas family will start to buy fewer supplies as they usually do to avoid wasted food and leftovers.
People who have purchased food from Mario and Maria never imagined themselves experiencing a situation where small businesses that make good revenue will lose business in one day.
“I leave school at 1:30, and I see the trucks [on BC campus] are always busy, and it’s kind of weird not to see that today,” said Ryan, a Midwood student who purchases food from Mario & Maria occasionally.
On Thursday, a day after Brooklyn College announced the shutdown there were only two trucks on campus. One Halal truck and the usual waffle stand were missing.
Although Starbucks is a large chain store, each shop carries its revenue, and it’s just a matter of time for stores to lose business. Students who purchase coffee, refreshers, or baked goods from Starbucks on Hillel Road know that it is hard to receive your order within 3-5 minutes. On Thursday, Starbucks hardly had a wait.
“I’m actually going to be bored; time goes by quicker when it’s busy,” says Owa, a Starbucks employee.