How are you?
Are you a small business with a story to tell? I would love to hear from you! How has your business changed due to the pandemic? What have you learned about your company from your customers?
Write me a message and let’s talk!
– Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor
Contact me at [email protected]
Pool construction “explodes” during the pandemic
DIVE IN: More people have wanted to build backyard pools since the pandemic, says Chad Johnston in a recently completed hillside pool above the Silver Lake Reservoir.
Chad Johnston is excited to move from Silver Lake to a new home in Eagle Rock. His three children between the ages of 4 and 13 cannot wait either. Sure, there will be great views from the hilly property – but that’s not the main attraction.
“I can finally build a pool for myself and my family,” said Johnston, partner at Johnston Vidal Projects, a Santa Clarita-based landscape architecture firm that has earned a reputation for specializing in sloping pools.
Before the pandemic broke out, the 7-year-old company received an average of 5-8 phone calls per week asking about building a pool in the backyard.
“Now we get 5-8 calls a day,” says Johnston, who adds that he had to decline projects because his staff and crew were at full capacity. “Demand is just exploding,” he says. “There’s so much interest from Los Angeles’ Eastside, especially in the Silver Lake area.”
A recent Silver Lake project designed a garden pool on notoriously steep Baxter Street. To get to the property, the crew had to coordinate access with the neighbors on Fargo Street (also hilly), who eventually decided that they too wanted to add a garden pool on their property.
The surge in pool construction is directly related to homeowners looking to create their own personal paradise due to the pandemic. “The majority of the pools we build – 75-80 percent I would say – are for families,” says Johnston, explaining that parents see a pool as “saving their sanity” and a means of keeping children entertained.
“We’re such an outdoor person here in Southern California,” continues Johnston. “This pandemic just shows us how much we value our outdoor life and how a pool can make things bearable.”
A 2016 article by Fast Company reported that there are 250,000 private pools in Los Angeles County. In Beverly Hills, 60% of homes have pools.
Nevertheless, according to the market research company IBIS World, total sales growth for the swimming pool construction industry in the USA is expected to decline by 1.4% in 2020 under CoVid-19. The report points to a slowdown in per capita disposable income and rising unemployment rates.
Johnston has not seen any slowdowns so far – or does not expect one. He and his partner employ 35 sales representatives, two full-time designers and an office manager.
“We are really happy to do what we do,” he admits, pointing out the devastating losses in other small businesses. “It’s been a pretty wild ride so far.”
Poll: How did you upgrade your garden during the pandemic?
Biz Buzz asks: How’s it going these days?
We asked Christian Degracia, co-owner of 1802 Roasters in Cypress Park, the question.
Delivery appearances explode
Even before the pandemic, supply orders grew dramatically, and those numbers skyrocketed as Covid-19 hit the scene.
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According to an article in Quartz, the number of people working as “couriers and messengers” rose from fewer than 850,000 to nearly 920,000 between February and July. This corresponds to an increase of over 8% with a simultaneous decrease in total employment in the USA by 8%. Because people didn’t drive or go to stores, gas station jobs fell 4% over the same period – an interesting anomaly.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was the first time that more people were working in delivery than in gas stations.
Changes to USPS disrupt local small businesses
Local small businesses that rely on the U.S. Postal Service experience delays and other disruptions that could seriously affect their survival. A recent story published in the Los Angeles Times tells how small businesses experience late deliveries, late payment checks to suppliers, and time-sensitive materials that never make it to their destination.
Overall, the article indicates that small businesses are a major customer of the USPS; and micro-businesses (with fewer than 10 employees) consider the postal service to be an integral part of their business. Many companies cannot financially afford to opt for other private courier services such as Fedex and UPS.
Tracking Small Business Loans
A newly updated interactive map and microcredit tracker show where microcredit has been distributed in the city of Los Angeles. The Small Business Emergency Microloan Program was launched in March 2020 by Mayor Eric Garcetti with a $ 11 million commitment with the goal of helping small businesses that are not eligible for US dollars under the CARES Act.
Low-interest loans of $ 5,000 to $ 20,000 were distributed in April – and continue to this day. Since the program began, over $ 5.9 million has been made available to 419 Los Angeles companies.
Deadline for free local small business program extended
The Los Angeles Cleantec Incubator (LACI) is offering a free 10-week virtual program to help businesses spin and thrive in this pandemic economy.
Applications are open until August 30th for the Founders Business Accelerator program, which teaches business owners how to increase resilience and develop effective strategies. Program participants also have access to resources, connect and network with other small business owners, and receive support and training from LACI.
Applicants from traditionally underserved communities are encouraged to participate: including Asian, Black, Latin American, and indigenous small business owners, as well as veterans and former incarcerates.
Apply here by August 30, 2020.
That’s it for this issue!
Stay cool and support small businesses as often as possible! We’ll be back next week with more biz buzz.
– Brenda Rees
Connect with your Chamber of Commerce
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