Written by: Mary Jeneverre Schultz
Do you have a favorite restaurant, coffee shop or dessert cafe you frequent? Now may be the time to support them with a gift card purchase—to help with their cash flow—or to order food to-go.
Small businesses are privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships that have fewer employees and/or less annual revenue than a regular-sized business or corporation.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities,” said Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke is the President & CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies based in Washington, DC.
Mielke also urged citizens to keep small businesses safe by “reporting break-in attempts and vandalism.” In just the last month, crimes against Asians rose to over 700 incidents, according to Mielke .
When COVID-19 was making news in the early months of 2020, Asian restaurants in Denver and other U.S. cities and Chinatowns were feeling the backlash with customers opting for other restaurants. Now, small businesses are trying to figure out how to survive these times of social distancing.
Colorado requested residents to practice social distancing—staying at least six feet apart—in early March. As a result, business owners had to rethink operations.
Truong An Gifts, a family-owned business for 40 years, is processing sales through e-mail and phone transactions. The specialty store located in the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard sells a wide variety of Asian gifts, herbs, K-beauty and more, according to owner Mimi Luong.
Restaurants started operating their business model with to-go/take-out orders only. Some are offering delivery options by staffing their own drivers, others are using services such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, Door Dash and Postmates.
“Having the take-out/delivery capability definitely helps us avoid a complete shut-down but it’s not enough to stay afloat,” said Jie Zheng, owner of Volcano Asian Cuisine in Greenwood Village, Colo. “For the time being, this is the only choice though, we just have to tough it out and hope for some help.”
Last March 25, Governor Polis issued Executive Order D2020-017 ordering Coloradans to stay at home due to the presence of COVID-19. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s public health order defined critical emergency personnel, infrastructure, government functions, and other activities that are exempt from the directives in this executive order.
Closing its doors after the order was mandated, Luong added, “Truong An Gifts is now only taking appointments by phone and meeting customers at a set time. We are closed now until April 10.” She mentioned their high-selling products include traditional Chinese medicine and herbs that boost immune system.
Zheng echoed Luong’s concerns. “The sudden shutdown of business activities not only affects our dine-in business but also our catering business.” Relief Zheng, restaurateur for ten years, is hoping local government will provide some support to small businesses. “I would like to see local government provide tax relief (such as reduced state and local tax rates in addition to federal payroll tax cuts) to those small businesses that stayed open during this difficult time,” he said. “For the general public, temporarily reducing or suspending sales tax would encourage consumer spending and a push to support local small businesses.” Ways to Support Small Businesses
Send an encouraging note to your friends who are business owners and ask how you can help during this time.
Write a positive review for the businesses you love on Google, Yelp or Facebook.
Book future appointments with hair and nail salons, chiropractors, massages, etc. If you can, consider prepaying.
Buy a gift card that you can use later when the stay-at-home order has been lifted.
Order carry-out/take-out or delivery from locally-owned restaurants. Visit tiny.cc/COAsianBusiness to see a list of Asian restaurants that are still open and what their current hours are. Properly wipe down the take-out boxes once they are in your home.
Create a fund to help a small business’ staff. Collect donations to support the staff. For example, food drives, clothing drives and shelter may be helpful in addition to monetary support.