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Politicized Pandemic Leads to Permanent Closure: 34 Percent of Small Businesses Can't Pay Oct. Rent


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Small business owners have cut costs, made sacrifices, and gotten creative. Still, nearly eight months into the pandemic, many now face permanent closure. 

"Retail is you buy everything on the front-end and then you try and make your money on the back-end, so we've had to live off credit cards through the pandemic. We haven't had the money coming in, so if I've got to crawl out of this hole, what do I do?" questioned small business owner Lisa Jones.

She started Elysian Boutique in Bentonville, Arkansas nearly a decade ago. Rather than take a paycheck the last few months, Jones opted to keep her staff paid. That helped stretch her government stimulus money through June, but after a struggling summer, October brought a new low.

"We are late on rent currently, which is really hard to swallow. I've never in my life not paid something on time," Jones told CBN News.

She's made the difficult decision to close her brick and mortar shop at the end of the month, focusing instead on increasing online sales. If that falls through, she will likely close permanently.

You still want to feel like you're that person, that woman, who built something on their own. So when you have this fear of it closing in such an unexpected way, you know you hope if you were to close it was on a good note...that it's gonna be on your terms, not because of a pandemic that bankruptcy's you," Jones said.

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According to a new Alignable poll, 34 percent of small consumer retail businesses might not make this month's rent. 

Meanwhile, the restaurant industry faces an even more uncertain future.

"I feel like I've been on a Merry-Go-Round that just kind of keeps getting faster and faster, like when we were kids, who's the last one to hang on before it throws you off," said Michelle Poteaux, owner and chef of the Bastille Brasserie in Arlington, Virginia. 

She says without more government help a majority of her industry won't survive the winter.

"You know, yeah, I'm asking for a hand-out in some ways. I've tried everything I can. This isn't a pull yourself up by the bootstraps make something of yourself, I've already done that. I just need help over the bump and this is a really big bump," Poteaux told CBN News. 

With colder weather approaching, she's trying to keep her outdoor seating area comfortable for customers, but with the unpredictable northeast weather, she's bracing for the possibility of a massive decrease in those willing to dine-out.

"It's a different kind of stress than just the day-to-day run the business kind of stuff, get it done let's keep moving forward. This is a question mark every day that looms; are we doing it right, are we keeping up, are we going to make it?" Poteaux explained. 

Alignable CEO, Eric Groves, says that when it comes to keeping small businesses afloat, consumers are the long-term solution.

"Right now the only way we can get our local economies to recover is to really focus on shifting our purchasing behavior back to businesses within our local community so that money can start spinning again and supporting the economy," Groves said.

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also been the host of the CBN News original podcast The CBN News Daily Rundown. Some of her recent stories have focused on the Millennial generation, technology, and innovation. She joined CBN News in June 2010, starting as an Associate Producer but her ultimate goal was to report. In January 2014, all of her hard work paid off when she was promoted to her dream job of being a reporter. She graduated from Harding University in 2008 with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. Caitlin began