How COVID-19 has affected small businesses


Haley Choe, Staff Writer

In mid-March of 2020, California implemented a mandatory shutdown as the coronavirus took over the nation like an unpredictable storm, causing chaos for small businesses.


As multiple safety precautions, such as at-home social distancing and the closing of non-essential businesses were enacted, people’s daily lives changed a great deal. Small business owners, in particular, took a large blow as they were not ready for the extensive shifts that would occur over the following months. 


For Unique Cleaners, a dry cleaning business in Stevenson Ranch, the largest change due to the coronavirus situation was “[losing] most of [their] customers because people didn’t feel safe to get their dry cleaning done.” 


Over the last decade, reported a steady increase in small businesses developing in the city. As Santa Clarita has a population of over 210,000 people, almost 8,000 small business establishments have been opened in the last ten years.


On a larger scale, the Small Business Association (SBA) website stated that there are approximately 30.2 million small businesses in the United States alone. This comprises 99.9 percent of all businesses in the nation and provides 58.9 million job opportunities to people. 


Because of the strict rules and widespread discomfort regarding shopping in person, small business owners have struggled to generate income to pay bills and provide for their families. 


Boutique owner Tracy Woo-Nagler states, “It is so easy to rack up debt right now. Making relationships and selling products are a large part of my business, so COVID-19 has obviously made that difficult.”


The sudden economic disruption due to the coronavirus outbreak allowed for multiple loans, grants and other resources to be provided to American workers and small businesses. states that the CARES Act, which contains emergency relief resources, was signed into law by the president in late March. The act gave $2.2 trillion in wages to out-of-work citizens. 


Benefits available to small businesses include stimulus checks, The Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), SBA Express Loans, the 504 loan and much more. 


Although reports that 93 percent of SCV small businesses are applying for some sort of financial support, not everyone can get the exact funds they need. As a result, staying positive and hopeful about the future is essential. 


Tracy Woo-Nagler, the owner of In Good Company, runs a family boutique that “has something for everyone, from baby all the way up to grandpa.” She desires to have a business geared towards the families of Santa Clarita, as she believes that it is an important option for the valley. Opening her business in 2019, right before the coronavirus shut everything down, Woo-Nagler continues to stay open and hopeful during this difficult time. 


To her, the most difficult aspect of COVID-19 is trying to lift the spirits of “people who are really disheartened with the things…” She and her partner Laura want to make their store a place that is “brighter, happier [and] positive, just so that [customers] can take a break from some of the things that they have been feeling.” 


The message Woo-Nagler and Laura want to spread to the community is that despite the big pressures of growing up, “sometimes you have to remember what it was like to be a child and play and to not have so many worries.”


Another small business owner in Stevenson Ranch trying to stay positive during the pandemic is Minnie Noh. Owner of Everyday Learning Center, Noh manages a tutoring center that aims to “encourage self-motivation, teach effective study habits, and provide a friendly atmosphere where students of all ages can feel comfortable.”


The students who attend Noh’s learning center come from all different backgrounds. Whether a child is raised by two full time working parents, a single parent, grandparents or others, Noh believes that “all parents or authority figures want the best for their kids, and they want to give them the same equal opportunity as anyone else, and that’s what I’m here to support because that’s what I believe in also.” 


The hardest part about the COVID-19 situation for her is “obviously getting students back into the center and making sure everyone is and feels safe. Also being hopeful despite all the constant change going around.” 


For now, Noh is “trying to see the best in everything and counting [her] blessings daily.” She also thinks it is really important to show empathy to everyone “because we are all sailing through the same storm.” 


Unique Cleaners is a family-owned and operated dry cleaners serving the Santa Clarita Valley. This company uses organic, non-toxic and biodegradable K-4 cleaning, making them unique across the valley. 


Ani Schomer, the manager, states, “We have been providing service since 1994, and we take pride in our quality of service and treat your garments as if they’re our own. No other cleaner offers a higher level of service or greater value.” 


The current pandemic has indeed brought significant alterations in everyone’s lives. Supporting small businesses is a way we can all support the SCV community. 


For now, staying positive is essential. Schomer expresses, “I am taking deep breaths throughout the day every day and reminding myself that things will eventually have to go back to normal.”