The 2020 Collapse of Small Business - Series Part 3

We have been on a journey to explore the impacts of the small business collapse that began in 2020.  In part 3 of this series, we will review the costs to our nation and communities (macros and micro), and ask where we can go from here.  
This has been a tough story to tell as the co-owner of one of the devastated 'Mom and Pop' businesses, but we know the information needs to be shared so that Americans never allow this behavior to be tolerated again.

This is the third in a three-part series.  Sign-up to receive each new entrepreneurial-themed blog post delivered conveniently to your inbox when they arrive!

DISCLAIMER: This is a real-life example of one family-owned small-business in the service sector in Oregon, USA. The details shared here are to help educate the public and provide an inside look to those who may be far removed from these realities.

The National Cost

In part 1 of the series, we reviewed the financial costs and the joke that was failed federal, state, and county-level emergency funding and support for businesses that were deemed by their government non-essential, or worse, made illegal to operate like ours.   Part 2 gave a glimpse into the mental health impacts and prices paid by devastated business owners trying to survive and save their life long dream and passion.

As you drive down your main street, through downtown or the historic districts, you likely can't help but see boarded-up businesses, commercial for rent or for lease signs, or just dark vacant windows where a bustling business once operated.  

By May of 2020, an estimated 2% of small businesses had closed forever.  The impact?  Over 100,000 small businesses closed in America in just a few short months.  By August of that year, the headlines escalated to state 'Small Businesses Are Dying by the Thousands — And No One Is Tracking the Carnage.'  That seems concerning.  Shouldn't we want to find out the impact and find ways to stop this trend as quickly as possible?  One study by December estimated as many as 800 small businesses a day were permanently closing in the US.  

Another study estimated that the impact was that our country stands to lose $3 trillion to $4 trillion in GDP over the next two years (2021 and 2022) due to COVID-19 "pandemic" closures and business shutdowns.  

What do those businesses and numbers mean to local communities?

The Macro Community Cost

In our instance, we not only closed our business in our community, but we were forced to leave the state and seek refuge in a state that would allow our business to operate unrestricted.  So beyond our personal taxes locally (Federal and State income), our personal spending in our communities, and our business taxes (Federal, State, Payroll, and Property), what else did our community lose?  

I compiled the best list I could of where our business was involved in our community over the years (the first portion is not including personal charitable donations and volunteer work).  

FIRST Corvallis Business Give-backs (these were a choice we made and were done because this is how we can serve those who serve us)
  • 50% discount for Police, Fire, and Military (active and retired), including spouses
  • 25% discount for students (all ages, primary and college levels)
  • Discounted sessions for minors
Business Donations and Charities Financially Supported (time and massage gift certificate donations are not tax-deductible due to them being in-kind labor in the service industry and not tangible goods; apologies if any were forgotten or left-out)
  • ABC House - auction table sponsor, 5k run free massage booth donation, and other events
  • Albany Public Schools Foundation - auction donations
  • Assistance League - Winters Eve silent auction annual donor
  • Benton 4-H - auction donations 
  • Best in the West Events - free massage booth donation for 5ks and other events
  • Boys & Girls Club, Corvallis, and Greater Santiam chapters
  • CARDV - auction gift certificate donations, diffusers and essential oils donated for victims and center staff 
  • CASA
  • CEC Sage Garden
  • Chintimini Wildlife Center
  • Corvallis High School - Mr/Ms. Spartan program
  • Crescent Valley - Raiders baseball
  • Family Tree Relief Nursery
  • Focus on the Family - silent auction
  • Friendsgiving
  • Furniture Share - Table sponsor, BBQ Fundraiser event coordinator and day of volunteer, silent auction donor, charity run team participant, and other donations
  • Heartland Humane Society
  • HP 5k Charity Run
  • Jackson Street Youth Shelter
  • Kings Valley Charter School - silent auction donor 
  • Mudslinger Events - onsite event time donation for multiple annual races, 50k, 5ks, and other events 
  • Old Mill Center - silent auction annual donor 
  • OSU Intermural Clubs - Rugby, Cycling Club, Running Club, Tri Club, Vet Med, and Student Veterans Association
  • Red Cross - blood drive host (quarterly events 2016-2019)
  • Rotary
  • Safe Haven Humane Society - silent auction annual donor 
  • Santiam Christian - silent auction annual donor
  • Special Olympics - Polar Plunge 
  • The Arts Center - silent auction annual donor 
  • United Way - Day of Caring annual team participation
  • Zonta
Business Memberships/Participation
  • Chamber of Commerce paid member
  • Corvallis NBG
  • Corvallis Young Pros
  • Downtown Corvallis Association
  • Leadership Corvallis - Class of 2019
  • Millions of Women Strong (founding Chapter member and co-Chair)

The Micro Community Impact

What about where we personally as business owners and involved citizens volunteered our time, talent, and treasures?  Let's look at some of those next.

Volunteer
  • Buy Local First Corvallis 
  • Chamber of Commerce, Independent Business Committee co-Chair
  • CIBA
  • Corvallis School District wellness committee
  • Lighten Up Samaritan 
  • Lincoln Elementary wellness committee
  • Love Inc. 
  • Santiam Christian High School track coach
  • Stone Soup Corvallis - soup kitchen monthly volunteer
  • United Way Day of Caring
Local Food Web Involvement
  • Farm food share CSA - Rainshine Farm  and Denison Farm
  • Corvallis Farmers Market 
  • First Alternative Co-op - member-owner 
  • Food Co-op Shareholder/Owners
Did any on that list surprise you?  Did you think of those levels of impact that a single business with two involved co-owners could have on their community?  Now, what is the multiplier effect when you extrapolate that out citywide?  County and statewide?  For our nation?

The Climate of Small Business Attack

That isn't how I would like to title my segment on rebuilding small businesses in America, but it feels like the current culture we as small business owners are fighting to survive in.  Surely there must be hope on the horizon, right?

Beyond the obvious issue of Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco being essential and small businesses not, what has the US political and financial climate become for businesses to rebuild themselves in?

Here the headline from Bloomberg:
Why are these being targeted by the IRS?  Is this really where there are the most impactful corruption or fraud concerns or are these the ones not involving any important wealthy people, politicians, etc.?  

When this article was discussed on a Facebook page I follow at the end of 2020, I expressed my outrage at this insanity and was reminded by another discussion participant that this is how communism starts, the loss of private sector business ownership.  What do you think?

How did Oregon close out 2020 for small businesses?  An increase in taxes targeted on small businesses.  They shared "According to the Oregon Employment Department, about 124,000 businesses will see their unemployment insurance tax rates go up for 2021, about 85% of all businesses in the state."

How can this strategy be beneficial to rebuilding?  I'll help answer that one, it isn't.

Community Understanding

I think if more Americans understand these impacts, how these closures affect all of us, and how we can make changes in the future, we will be collectively better off.  Why do I know we aren't yet there?  Because of how one of our own long-standing customers responded to our situation.

By and large, the customer responses to the closure announcement of our business were of their overwhelming love, support, understanding, and empathy.

However, there were others that pointed to where we had clearly been responsible for this business failure based on our personal choices and not working hard enough, or long enough.  Sadly she felt the need to reach out to us and place blame in this way: “Running a small business is a challenge. It is 24/7 - hardly a day off - especially for the first years. From your postings, I know you two like to take trips and being away from your business like that is fatal to any kind of growth.”

No.  No business should run your life.  Of course, there are likely to be seasons of hustle and long hours as an entrepreneur, but life is too short and precious to live this way 24/7 after eight years.  This isn’t healthy or sustainable.  There are ways to succeed in business and as an entrepreneur and I promise this isn’t it.

No friends, this was not the issue.  In fact, it’s sad this email made no mention that there could be a health challenge or government-imposed crisis impacting our economy.  That they believed their assumption about our personal lives would be our business demise is sad.

So please take our story and go forward in supporting indie local

Keep shopping small and buying local first. 

Continue cheering for small businesses and thanking them when they sponsor your auction or local charity.  

Let's come together and find solutions.  Let's be a part of the change we want in our nation.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this series.  Comment below and let me know!

Information courtesy of Echo Alexzander

2 Comments

  1. Wow. My heart sank when I read the first few lines of this post, knowing it came from a place of loss. I'm so sorry to read how difficult it became for your business to operate during 2020, because I know the heartache of watching something you love slip away. Your writing and thoughtful commentary is excellent and very informative.....I kept clicking links to open new windows and while I can't read every tonight I will follow up on your blog posts. Truly sad to read your story but kudos on turning it into such a valuable lesson.
  2. Jennifer Peterson  03/09/2021 07:10 AM Central
    Fantastic article. My father was a small business owner. Its hard work. I hope you have been able to find a place to thrive. Thank you for sharing. People need to hear beyond themselves

Leave a Comment