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Small business dreams on hold as coronavirus wipes out profits, sales

Family run businesses hunkering down
Posted at 8:35 PM, Mar 17, 2020

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Cake Girl, a family-owned and operated bakery, had big plans for the future, a new location in the works and ambitions to bake more and more cakes and cupcakes each day.

The husband and wife team continue baking their hearts out, even as the payoff grows smaller and smaller with each passing day in our new world seemingly surrounded by a coronavirus.

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“We are basically just staying afloat. We are paying our rent, paying our bills. We are not making any money, and we are starting to see less and less people on the roads,” Kirby Lavallee told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska.

On Tuesday, Lavallee spent his morning delivering to 16 different businesses after one of his loyal customers sent clients to support him.

“Just seeing on their face, the businesses we walked in, people were having rough days. Uncertain if they are going to have a job. It’s like giving them these items. They were so happy. That personal touch is important even in a time of quarantine.”

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Lavallee said they are on Uber Eats, and he makes home deliveries. But, they depend on foot traffic in the store. Lavallee said they are down 50% from last week, adding up to nearly $10,000 in lost sales.

Lavallee said safety and food quality is the top concern for his customers. Each day they bake and sanitize, bake and sanitize.

“Our core values are safety, quality, always here, be the best those are things we don’t deviate from any time at all, so we are always up on the sanitization, hygiene, and safety,” Lavallee said.

President Donald Trump announced disaster loans for small businesses like The Cake Girl. The question now? What will that mean in the short term?

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“We are thinking about today my employees are thinking about paying their rent today, buying their groceries today, what does that look like months down the road,” Lavallee said. “How long does that funding take to get? Who is going to get the funding? How are we going to go about getting that? So, I think now it’s just the uncertainty of how that money is going to be released. But, how does a small business owner like myself tap into those funds, and when can I get them?”