How Covid-19 Has Impacted Black-owned Businesses

By Saragine Antoine

The coronavirus has impacted our daily lives since the U.S. first announced a confirmed case. Covid-19 has impacted schools, work, traveling, dining, shopping, and many small businesses. Schools and jobs have changed since the pandemic because of remote working and learning, with traveling has changed because states are having travelers quarantine once they enter a state; dining and shopping has changed because there is a limit of customers that are allowed indoors; mall businesses have been hit the hardest since the pandemic because people are not shopping or dining at them. Black owned-business have been hit hard especially because of the stress of the virus, and years added on of systemic racism, and economic disparities. 

Mona’s Accents, a black owned florist shop in New Orleans, has made adjustments to keep their business open as much as possible during the pandemic. Covid-19 has impacted this florist shop by making it difficult to rehire and hire employees, and has made it difficult to serve everybody in the New Orleans area because of elevators in certain buildings such as Hospitals, Apartment Complexes, and Nursing Homes; so they can keep everyone safe. The reason they do not deliver to these areas is because they do not want to increase the chances of their employees catching the virus, when in contact with someone on the elevator. On the bright side COVID-19 has increased their flow of daily arrangements, and deliveries because more people are sending their loved ones flowers because they cannot see them right now. No one is allowed to enter the shop as a way to ensure customers and employee’s safety. They only do deliveries  and curb side pick up. All of the arrangements when it comes to customers picking the flowers that they want for a specific event are all done online. Consultations are all done online, and are virtual when it comes to the viewing of the flowers. As for the rule where customers have to wear a mask, they do not have this problem because customers are not allowed in the shop. Employees have to wear a mask at all times, and social distance at all times.  Since the shop is a big shop, Mona follows the CDC’s guidelines of the correct protocols. When it comes to the age group that comes into Mona’s shop it’s only the young employees, and no customers are allowed in. This rule has caused a bit of a hostile environment for Mona’s shop, because some customers get angry with that rule, and will not come back to purchase flowers from them, or some customers would never call back again. Back in March when the U.S. was going into lockdown, Mona’s Accents made the decision to close up the shop because of Mona’s older age, and at the time the older age group was at risk if they contracted the virus. So they made the decision to close the shop for one week, and sent their employees home, and paid them. Business was really slow, Mona and her daughter are in this business together so they decided to take over the business after they closed up the shop. They worked together to keep the doors open, they worked enough to pay the recurring expenses. They couldn’t do this work by themselves anymore, so they hired an employee to do the delivery orders, they kept doing this until the major holidays came up like Mother’s Day, Memorial Day Weekend, Father’s Day Weekend, and July 4th. When these holidays came up they hired all of their employees back again. On the first day when the business reopened the parking lot made it easy for them to bring the flowers to the customers. Customers stayed in their cars, paid in advance, and the employees were able to put the flowers in their car with no contact delivery. The delivery system really helped the shop pick up orders, because of how convenient it was for the customers. Even though Covid-19 has really hurt small businesses, Mona’s Accents is an example of how small businesses can come through because they hired a majority of their employees back, and are grateful to have an income coming in even though it is not as much as it was before the pandemic started. “They are grateful that their shop did not suffer as much as other businesses in the New Orleans area did”, Mona said. 

Another black owned business that has been impacted by COVID-19 is Headquarters which is a barbershop located in the New Orleans area. Covid-19 has impacted Headquarters because it slowed up the flow of traffic into the barbershop because the schools were closed, and people were afraid of contracting the virus in the beginning of the pandemic, this has resulted in profit losses for the barbershop.  When it comes to keeping customers and employees safe, Headquarters follows state protocols when it comes to social distancing, they did a deep clean of the entire barbershop, and sanitized the equipment. They have instilled a mask wearing policy to enter the building and have a waiting area outside so customers can wait before their appointment. Headquarters has not had problems with customers wearing masks, because the customers are cautious themselves about contracting the virus and are respectful enough to slow the spread. Covid-19 has impacted the older clients from coming into the barbershop because they are in a high-risk group category, but they did understand that the barbershop had to go through proper procedures to open back up safely. When it came to the decision to close down the shop back in March it was very difficult for the barbershop “because of profit loss, but they had to take into consideration their customer’s health, and how the virus might affect their body”, Jamal said.  When it comes to customers coming into the barbershop, customers were very eager to come into the shop, because most of them had not had their hair cuts in months. On the first day the shop opened up a lot of younger clients were coming in, and were excited about fixing their hair. Older clients were not as comfortable to come in because of the risk of catching the virus, and how it attacks the older age group. It was hard for some younger clients to come in because of financial stability. Even today with schools being closed that still affects the barbershop because of the lack of childcare service. Remote working has also impacted the barbershop because people don’t feel the need to get their hair done since they are not leaving their house. 

Therefore, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in so many different ways. It has given us a new perspective on the way our lives were before the pandemic, and how much we take for granted. By the looks of this pandemic it is going to be around for a while, but eventually we will get back to normal.

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