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The Quad: Ways to help support small businesses impacted by COVID-19

(Claire Guo/Daily Bruin staff)

By Cecile Wu

April 1, 2020 1:11 pm

As Westwood Village starts to turn into a ghost town after the depopulation of students, a question remains in the settling dust: How will smaller local businesses survive the next harrowing months?

Unfortunately, this question doesn’t only stand in emptying college towns, but virtually everywhere in the United States where stay-at-home orders have been placed.

A recent National Small Business Association poll revealed that more than 75% of small-business owners expressed a large concern toward COVID-19’s economic impact. This sentiment is clear when paired with the finding that almost half of small businesses across the nation have seen a decrease in demand.

Westwood businesses are no strangers to this sentiment. Sam Langford, the owner of Espresso Profeta in Westwood Village, feels the upcoming months will bring many hardships.

“I honestly do not even know if we will survive as a small business. I’m sure every single other small business is also wondering if they can stay open,” Langford said.

For those who wish to lend a hand to local businesses, The Quad has compiled ways to aid local businesses and service workers that may need extra support.


Toggle the options on the map above to see which stores in Westwood are still open. Black pins represent closed stores, while green pins represent open stores. See information here that isn’t correct? Fill out this form if you have updated information

To start, restaurants are noticeably taking a heavy hit with fewer people willing to venture out.

“There are no people on the streets now. … So far, we’ve seen business decrease by 70% on a single day,” said Robert Larach, the manager of Enzo’s Pizzeria.

The best way to support restaurants is to continue ordering food from them. Many restaurants have switched to delivery and/or takeout. Don’t forget to tip the workers extra to show your appreciation, especially if they’ve provided sustenance on all your late-night adventures at UCLA.

If you’re not in the Westwood area, you can look up your favorite local restaurants for their updated business operations and hours to make sure they remain supported too.

In addition, some restaurants are also selling their food stocks to cover falling sales.

“We’ve tried to incorporate being a small market, like selling oat and hemp milk, coffee beans and bread,” Langford said.

Consider skipping the crowded supermarkets and instead, buy produce from local restaurants in need.

Another simple way to help keep small businesses afloat is purchasing gift cards or certificates. Not only can you use them later, but you’re providing payments that these businesses are being cut off from. If you want to go an extra step, give the gift cards to the hardworking service workers around you. Help out your local grocery store clerk, postman/woman or food delivery person.

USA Today’s parent company Gannett recently set up supportlocal.usatoday.com, a donation website that maps out thousands of small businesses across the country to purchase gift cards from. More businesses in various locations are being added every day.

Alternatively, you could donate payments to small businesses.

In a recent Instagram post, Michelle Obama suggested sending payments to businesses that you made appointments for – like hair and nail salons, barbers and physical therapists – as if your appointment wasn’t canceled. Without a steady income, many of these businesses aren’t sure if they’ll make it to the other side, so any payment helps.

Donations could also go to nonprofit charities and foundations that have stepped up to consolidate and distribute funding to businesses in need. The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation is a notable example, using donations to assist restaurant workers, grant zero-interest loans to restaurants in need and aid other nonprofits supporting restaurant workers.

Other California-based funds for small businesses include OC Community Resilience Fund and the Give2SF fund. More funds across the nation can be found on Candid.org’s list of coronavirus relief funds.

If you would like to help small businesses on a larger level, another option is to call up state representatives and voice your concerns.

It is during these unprecedented times that expressing our appreciation for the people that support us every day, from the neighborhood mailman to the pizza delivery person, is more important than ever. Even while maintaining social distance, we can show up for each other.

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Cecile Wu | Assistant Blogging editor
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