Tuesday, April 21, 2020

12. Roaster Experiences with PPP, EIDL and other grants

Today we'd like to share a few of the roaster experiences we've heard.

Small roaster in SE Michigan has 1 cafe and 15 - 17 employees. All but 4 of them were laid-off at the beginning of the crisis. This business owner (so far) has chosen to:
* Applied for the EIDL Advance grant (no word on that yet)
* Applied for a Wayne County small business emergency relief grant and was awarded a couple thousand from this fund. This was a great relief as it basically paid one more month's rent. Her landlord was unwilling to consider any forgiveness or delay of the rent schedule.
* Did NOT apply for the PPP. Finds the benefit may not be worth the hassle on a number of levels. Not sure about loan forgiveness. Not sure about rules regarding bringing back employees when she's not sure she can employ them safely. Not certain the 8 week forgiveness period is long enough for her to put them on payroll if they are not working.

What impresses me about this roaster, like many I have talked to, is the agility she has shown adapting very quickly to the changing situation. She innovated continuously for weeks, for example, creating a contact-free take out window and beefing up on-line ordering operations. After the store fully shut down, they promoted a weekend take-out event that was very successful.

Another small roaster, south of the Detroit metro area, has one cafe. They remain open for take-out with reduced hours staying open only from 8am - 1pm. On April 14 they launched a web-store for their bags of beans for the first time. The owner's daughter helped him get that launched. The owner applied for and received about $5,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's emergency fund which are state funds.

A roaster with two cafes, one in Detroit and one in a northern suburb, chose this path:
* Applied for the EIDL and have received the $10,000 advance.
* Applied for the PPP but have not received funds from that one (yet).
* Applied for city-level grants and successfully received funding from those.
* Has been able to make arrangements for some leniency with landlords.
This roaster commented that while his spending is way down now, he's only now getting through paying for bills incurred in March just before the "shelter-in-place" orders were issued.

A St. Louis roaster with three locations has one of them open for pick-up, 8am - 3pm, and the other two are temporarily closed. The situation is dynamic for them, as with everyone, but when we talked on April 7th, the status was:
* Applied for the PPP
* Still considering applying for EIDL and local business emergency grants.
* Considering other SBA loan programs, not just the emergency loans, to help the business expand.
I was struck with this roaster's determination to not give up on business development plans. Slow down, perhaps, but not give up! They also promoted a Saturday take-out event at a store that sold out three hours before they had planned to end!

A New York roaster with 20 stores across Manhattan and Queens has about 200 employees. All stores have been closed and all but a core team of about 5 - 7 people had to be laid-off, which was "devastating" they told me. On top of that, their head of human resources moved to a different company in March and has not yet been replaced. They are still roasting for their wholesale accounts and on-line sales. The representative I talked to was confident that all government programs were being considered for possible fit, but was not aware of which, if any, SBA programs were being accessed. He shared that the company was serious about offering all employees job security. They've sent repeated messages to the laid off staff that the company will hire them back as soon as circumstances allow.

We hope this summary of economic and business realities of different roasters gives some reassurance, "you are not alone"! Pull up those boot-straps!

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