Some small business owners worried about economic survival

Marvin Ferguson’s store, Perfect Fit Shoes and Accessories, has been closed since March 20.

It is hanging on for life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to go another month,” Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian.

“If I do it, it will really be detrimental to my business.”

Ferguson has owned the business for eight years.

He said it has survived obstacles in the past.

However, COVID-19 has been the worst.

“When we first opened, we started during the roadworks project,” Ferguson said.

“We survived. We went through a few hurricanes and survived. But this COVID-19 is uncharted waters, not knowing when the business will reopen again.”

He added, “I am concerned. This is a major setback for me and my business because just before the pandemic I would’ve gotten a lot of stock so stock is now essentially on hold until this epidemic is over. If I had a date as to when this epidemic would be over, then I could have a light at the end of the tunnel.

“But, we just don’t know. For me, if someone is still working or is laid off, they are just trying to survive. They’re trying to get the bare necessities just to make it. So, as a result, that trickles down to my business as well because they have no money.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis ordered the closure of hundreds of non-essential businesses across The Bahamas in March.

He has provided no timeline as to when those businesses can reopen.

As a result, many small business owners have found themselves in difficult financial situations as the pandemic slowly chips away at the Bahamian economy.

Anton Minnis, the owner of Executive Grooming, said his business has been “seriously and adversely” impacted by the pandemic.

“It’s based on the fact that they’re not able to open until the fourth stage,” Minnis told The Guardian.

“We still have rent to pay. We still have light bills to pay and we’re not turning over [a profit] like that. We are our business.

“Small businesses, we are our business. So, everything is predicated on what we do. We, as people, are self-sustained. And then, we as people sustain the business.”

Minnis said he’s “definitely worried” about how he will continue to sustain his business.

“We’re seeing now that in order to open you’re going to have to make some capital investment into personal protective equipment as well as restricting internally, if you are able to maintain a physical presence, a brick and mortar presence,” he said.

“If you’re not able to maintain, then how do you transition from there to mobile? When you transition to a mobile service, then you have to factor in transportation costs and traveling time. Travel time is something that is going to have to be paid for as well.”

Minnis said his ability to do delivery services during this time is “the only thing that sustaining at a minimal right now”.

Asked how much longer his business can survive under the restriction implemented by the government, Minnis replied, “I’d say if by the middle of June this doesn’t pan out, then we’ll have to seek unemployment or other means of revenue stream.”

Prettia Dean, owner of De Forest Restaurant, is remaining optimistic about her business.

“I’m thinking it could [survive] as of now,” Dean said.

“But in an event, the virus and the restrictions get worse then [there’s a] zero percent chance of surviving.”

Her restaurant hasn’t opened since late-March.

“Business became slow and staff became fearful of catching the virus so they stayed home,” she said.

Dean plans on reopening for delivery next week.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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