Inglewood’s Latino Small-Businesses Struggle to Stay Afloat During the Pandemic

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young latinos in traditional barbershop

The City of Inglewood, like most cities, has a number of small businesses that support the local economy and collectively, represent the largest employer. Latino and African-America-owned businesses have been a significant portion of the small business landscape in the city and the area around West Arbor Vitae Street is representative of one of the Latino business enclaves that have been operating for years.

In the 400 block alone there are a number of Latino-owned businesses including the Jalisco Bakery, Mina Printing Company, Chapala Meat Market, Calfor construction Company, El Nino Garden Equipment Company. Lalos Grill, Portero Income Tax Service and Briana’s Mods Women’s Fashions, to name only a few. Briana’s is finally re-opening after being completely closed for the last two months as a result of COVID-19.

Beatriz Acero opened Briana’s Mods six years ago at 430 West Arbor Vitae Street. Her business had grown progressively from its inception as she added more variety and accessories to her women’s fashion line. From daily women’s business attire to casual and formal wear, Briana’s was the go to spot for women shopping for the latest in women’s fashions and accessories.

“We have lost over $4,400 since our store closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acero said. “I am very happy that we are now open six days per week from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Monday through Saturday.”

Over the last decade, the number of Latino business owners has grown by 34%, compared to 1% for all business owners in the United States, according to a report from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, a research and education collaboration between Stanford University and the Latino Business Action Network.

Now, those same businesses — along with those owned by African Americans — are struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic and face particularly great challenges.

“Latino businesses before the pandemic started small and stayed small,” said Marlene Orozco, lead research analyst with the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. The group has been tracking how Latino-owned businesses are faring through the pandemic. 

These smaller businesses often have trouble accessing capital as they start out, Orozco says. Those same challenges remain now. Funding from the US federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program is limited to those who meet a list of requirements. The program, which started in response to the pandemic, offers loans meant to provide incentives for small businesses to keep their workers on their payrolls. Applications are no longer being accepted.

Acero was not eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program because her small enterprise did not meet the minimum requirements. “Because of the pandemic, my business has lost revenue that will never be replaced and because we were not able to collect any past relief I hope that, going forward, we will be able to finish the year with a modest profit.”

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