MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce (GINCC) released a survey a few weeks ago asking local businesses to answer questions related to financial issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bob Hendrickson, executive director of GINCC, stated the purpose of the survey is to “gather information about how we can help, who’s affected, and what industries are struggling.”
“All of the businesses that have responded are under 15 employees so they’re all very small businesses. 68% of them were seeing a significant impact. Either they’re temporarily closed. They’re either operating at minimum capacity,” said Hendrickson.
One of those businesses is Martin Sports Apparel.
“We’re just a small shop, sitting in a country village back lane in Ishpeming. We don’t have four or five months [of money] stockpiled to get us through,” said Scott Martin, owner of Martin Sports Apparel.
His business provides clothing for local sports teams and other spirit wear. With schools closed and spring sports out of the picture, this has left a huge impact on Martin’s business.
“We didn’t get high school baseball, didn’t get high school fastpitch softball, and again that’s a huge portion of our annual income. And now it looks like we might not get Little League or summer recreational leagues either. So you add all that up, that’s approximately 65 percent of our annual revenue. It’s gone and it’s not coming back,” said Martin.
The shop is the main source of income for the Martin’s, and with little to no revenue coming in has left them to find different ways to stay financially afloat. This includes selling face masks.
“We had two options, we could just admit defeat and go out and join the workforce or we could pivot and try to reinvent this to survive on online-only sales. And with masks being in such high demand and no suppliers right now, we’re looking at a ten to fourteen day turn around for full-color custom printed masks,” said Martin.
While small business loans are available right now, Martin said he could only secure a $2,000 grant to pay one month’s rent.
The responses to the GINCC survey so far have also shown the difficulties of other small businesses securing financial support.
The ultimate goal of the survey is to provide businesses in the area guidance on where and how to apply to for loans, and to create a support network.
“It’s going to be a very slow process of getting things reopened and I hope that they have the patience for it and we’ll make it through this together,” said Hendrickson.
The GINCC “COVID-19 Impact Survey” is still open for businesses to fill-out. You can click here to take it.