Kzoo businesses try to stay positive amid revenue losses

Coronavirus

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Local businesses continue to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey results released by the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership show 95% reported a loss in revenue and nearly half saw losses greater than 75%.

Daniel Salas, the co-owner of La Familia restaurant, says his business opened in November and was still new as the virus started impacting the area.

“I’d say we were hit pretty hard, especially us with being new kids in town. We didn’t have a clientele base of three or four years, we had a clientele base of three or four months,” Salas said.

The restaurant had to adapt to new health and safety regulations quickly.

“We’re doing our part keeping everything wiped down and sanitized, wearing our mask, doing what we can,” Salas said.

La Familia had to shift to takeout only, which resulted in a drop in revenue during its crucial first year.

“I was definitely scared, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but thank God we’re still here,” Salas said.

Even as sales improve, it is still a rough road ahead for businesses like the Spirit of Kalamazoo, which sells gifts, t-shirts and ice cream on the Kalamazoo Mall.

Co-owner Kathleen Widner says many retail businesses have been hit especially hard.

“It’s been challenging. We were closed from mid-March to late-May,” Widner said.

News 8 originally checked in with the store at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the challenges have not disappeared.

“When you’re in retail, it’s not like you’re going to get that money back if you’re closed. If you’re closed, it’s hard to make up for that, especially if it is such a long closure,” Widner said.

Despite the hurdles, Widner says they know they can make it, even if they do not see typical summer revenue.

“Luckily, we’ve been in business almost nine years and we feel like a lot of the build-out for moving to this space, that debt has kind of been paid off, so we weren’t worried about closing,” Widner said.

The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership organized a gift card matching program to give local businesses a boost and established carry out parking spaces in front of restaurants.

Salas says the support is greatly appreciated and downtown businesses owners are working to stay positive.

“Trying to just navigate these difficult times for sure, but we are looking forward to a brighter future,” Salas said.

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