SC Small Business Chamber pleas for new stimulus as hopes for holiday shopping waver

November 16, 2020

by Andrew James

CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) — We are entering a critical time for many small businesses with the holiday shopping season before the universally-acclaimed slow season along the Grand Strand.

This past week, the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce sounded the alarm to demand state leaders look at more options to help struggling small businesses, and most importantly the need for another stimulus package.

“Really the dollars are in Washington and they have the ability to put more money out there,” said SCSBCC President Frank Knapp Jr.

Knapp said that 16% of small businesses benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program.

“We have a lot of them out there that didn’t get any money and they’re thinking about how they’re going to survive. They’re hoping for a good holiday season,” Knapp.

That’s if some businesses even make it that far. Staples like Judy’s House of Oldies announced their closure over the summer and it was complete at the end of the summer season. The corner store along Highland Street and Main sits empty for the first time in decades.

Down Highway 17 near Acadian Shores, Oasis owners announced Sunday that they will begin closing their bar and venue which launched right as the pandemic took hold in South Carolina.

“At any other time, March would have been the perfect time to begin a new business venture in Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, the Corona Virus pandemic crushed that chance,” owners wrote on social media. “With the winter season upon us, there’s no way to survive.”

The SCSBC announced this month that roughly 145 businesses had closed in Horry County as of September. In addition to that, chamber officials say business licenses application are down 31% in 2020 compared to last year.

“It’s the combination of a reduction in new business start-ups along with these businesses closing down that hurts the economy,” Knapp said.

It’s not all doom however, Knapp said some businesses are thriving in 2020.

“We have a lot of small businesses that are doing pretty good right now. They are in a type of business that can survive this type of recession. But if you are in the retail business or in the restaurant business, anything that relies on tourism, you’re hurting,” Knapp said.

Businesses like Rivertown Boutique fit into that fact. The retail store closed up before the summer season due to impacts from the virus.

“The other big box stores made it easier and accessible to order online and ship to home that our small business owners could not compete with that,” said Michelle Buffkin who owned and operated the store on Main Street in Conway.

Knapp said more casualties can come. The Small Business for America’s Future coalition released a poll back in October that surveyed 1,500 small business owners. It showed that 34% of them had doubts about staying in business through the end of the year.

Out of the roughly 11,000 businesses or nonprofits that applied for the S.C. CARES Act grants, more than 9,600 were small or minority-owned businesses.

“We need that fiscal stimulus now, not in January or February,” Knapp said. “We’re going to see hundreds, and hundreds maybe thousands of businesses in this state, shut their doors for good.”

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