Small businesses struggle due to COVID-19 pandemic

By Kaden Bryant, Staff Reporter

It is no secret that the coronavirus outbreak has reached the people of Amarillo, Texas — the same people who flood to the supermarkets at the first sign of snow. But this is different. This highly contagious virus has created a widespread panic across the world.

Most cities and states are doing the best they can by telling people to stay home, and have even gone to some lengths to shut some businesses down to help stop the spread of infection.

And while big businesses are receiving bailouts from the government so they don’t go under, this stay-at-home order has small businesses doing what little they can to stay afloat.

Ken Kruckeberg, the owner of The Shirt Factory on Commerce Street, said that he hopes that things will go back to normal quickly. Being a small family business during this epidemic has been challenging, he said.

“It took all my business away. I do orders for schools, churches, businesses, gatherings, and now I’ve got nothing coming in,” Ken Kruckeberg said.

Brice Kruckeberg, the print shop manager at The Shirt Factory and nephew of Ken Kruckeberg, said with no orders to print, he has resorted to cleaning up and organizing the shop.

“Well as soon as the virus is under control and we start getting customers again, we will be working more efficiently and hopefully getting larger orders for all of the spring orders we missed out on,” Brice Kruckeberg said.

But until then, experts say small businesses need to stay vigilant. There are many options available for small-business owners. Mark Nair, an Amarillo College economics professor and chair of the business department said that there are some things small businesses can do immediately to improve their current state.

“First, and most importantly, file for the Paycheck Protection Program. The Bank of Commerce here in Amarillo has been one of the best lenders for this. The next steps are promotional and customer acquisition,” Nair said. While this new lending program for small businesses ran out of money and stopped accepting claims recently, government officials are working on an agreement to extend the funding.

Other businesses are choosing to scale back operations or close during the crisis. Ken’s brother Lloyd Kruckeberg, who owns LKCPA, which stands for Lloyd Kruckeberg Certified Public Accountant, and the next door fish store known as Aqua Calm, has decided to liquidate the business inventory of Aqua Calm in this sale and will only keep up with tank maintenance for clients.

Illustration by Daniar Onoz

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