EVANSTON (CBS) — They are weathering the COVID-19 storm and surviving, but on the horizon they see concerns about the survival of many small businesses.
When Vince Gerasole spoke to the people who own an Evanston bread company, he learned something about surviving in the COVID economy, and concerns for the months ahead.
Hewn Bakery was set to move into a larger and pricier location when the pandemic economy suddenly shut down
“It was beyond a thrill roller coaster, it was the worst thrill ride you could possibly imagine,” said Judie Matthei. “We didn’t know day to day what was going to happen next to our staff and to our families.”
Even scaling back operations proved challenging.
“We were short on butter; we were short on milk and it wasn’t that we were short as a country, but the supply chains were disrupted,” said Ellen King.
Matthei said: “We went from about 70 wholesale customers to four or five.”
But the business partners pressed on, banking on faith. And long before a government loan, they moved ahead to their new facility.
Honestly I guess sometimes when you have no choice it’s easier because you have to do something,” King said.
From the socially distanced lines outside, to the protective plastic walls inside, it isn’t exactly what was planned, but what is these days.
“You have to figure out a way to pivot to survive,” King said.
Business is just fine, but Hewn sees problems on the horizon, and many of their restaurant clients continue to struggle.
So, with some government aid programs scaling back or ending, or on hold, these business owners offer food for thought.
“It’s very scary to own a small business probably anywhere in the world right now,” Matthei said.
The Illinois Restaurant Association estimates that by fall 20 percent of the state’s restaurants, 25,000 in all, will go out of business, in spite of recent openings. The trickle-down effect makes its way to businesses like Hewn.