SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Many small business owners are looking at their options going into the new year with a new administration in Washington D.C. with the bottom line - survival.
A variety of stimulus funds have been coming from the White House during the current administration including the choppy rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program.
The most recent $600 stimulus did not go to all Americans, just those who qualified under strict conditions. With the inauguration of Joe Biden there will be possibly a $1,400 stimulus check coming and additional assistance for small businesses, research and development and personal accounts until the COVID-19 crisis is controlled.
In local communities other assistance is either offered or will be part of a 2021 plan including incentives for people to buy local gift cards that come with a bonus for the purchaser. Already programs have been rolled out on the Central Coast.
At the end of 2020, one program was offered in Carpinteria with many businesses and their customers benefitting.
In the last week the new "Keep it Local" Gift Card Program was offered in Paso Robles with a 20% discount backfilled by the city.
It's still to be seen what these programs, along with the state incentives and the Biden administration plans will mean to business owners who are on the brink of closing.
Adele Spalluto and her family own the Italian Pottery Store Outlet in downtown Santa Barbara. They opened 38 years ago. When the new year began, "We were toying with the idea of closing the store in January and February."
The owners said, however, with the vaccine distribution underway, "And if we can get that done and get the economy open again, then you know we can manage. Luckily for us we have been around since '83 so we have a huge web presence."
The store became more than just Italian pottery after the last recession 15 years ago.
"That's when realized ok we need to have something for everyone and we have really focused on doing that since then," she said.
Now besides pottery, the store is stocked with gifts and home goods including cookbooks, utensils, jewelry, unique decor items and numerous handmade and painted products.
With the state and federal government intensely focused on saving these businesses during the pandemic, this store fits the mold in every way.
Spalluto said, "We've got five employees besides my brother and sister and I, so very small we love it. This is our passion."
The retail operations may be limited for now, to five hours a day, but the family is keeping the lights on and the doors open. "We have to take care of the people who have been working for us for years they are our first priority," said Spalluto. "We are going to muscle through and keep them employed. We'll get through this."
In recent years the downtown promenade idea was discussed but slow in being tested, until now. That new retail and dining area may bring the advantages back to the shopping districts again.
Spalluto said, "And now that it has been forced and they are finding that it works I think it is wonderful people want to be outside they want to have a glass of wine like the cafe's in Europe"
The virus crisis has also led to more people at home, working on improvement projects.
Many are coming into this small, locally owned business.
"They are redesigning their homes they are reimagining their outdoor spaces," said Spalluto.