A survey was conducted in the county to determine the economic welfare, troubles and possible solutions to help bring aid to those in need.
Small businesses along St. Charles Street in San Andreas were interviewed by the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce and the Calaveras County Economic and Community Development Department on Nov. 18.
The survey also requested statistics on how these businesses stayed up to date on the new COVID-19 regulations.
“Some of our businesses don’t know,” said Kathryn Gallino director of the Calaveras County Economic and Community Development. “They don’t know what to do. So, we’re walking in the rain today because we care.”
Gallino teamed up with Morgan Gace, CEO of Calaveras Chamber of Commerce, to get more acquainted with the local businesses and ask how the Chamber could help them, whether it be finding a creative way to spread the word about their business or provide PPE for their employees during this difficult time.
The survey on Nov. 18 was conducted with about eight businesses, both essential and non-essential.
Some businesses showed a decrease in revenue, like Star Donuts, but has steadily returned to normal, despite indoor-seating restrictions. Others, like the San Andreas Pharmacy that opened in January this year, are doing alright now, but still viewed the pandemic as a “curve ball.”
DM Bail Bonds has experienced another hurdle other than COVID-19 – the “Zero Bail” policy that allowed those with minor offenses to be released without a bail amount.
“We’re really close to shutting the doors,” said Liz Cardenas, account manager at DM Bail Bonds. “December is also tough for us in general because people stop paying, but you have to be flexible to stay in business.”
Essential businesses like Treats and NAPA Auto Parts reportedly said they have been doing fine during the pandemic and have showed little to no change in revenue.
“(The Ace downstairs) has seen a higher percentage of business since the pandemic started,” according to staff member, John (no last name given).
For NAPA Auto Parts, staff reported only a small issue concerning the availability of some products arose, but everything is flowing more smoothly now.
Other essential businesses like the San Andreas Mini Mart and the Mobil gas station reported they have been doing fine as well, with little to no change in revenue.
“Even during the pandemic, everyone needs gas, beer and cigarettes,” said Connie Shawfer, owner of San Andreas Mini Mart. She reported she has had some issues asking people whom she doesn't know - the tourists, and people passing through the town - to pull down their mask for ID confirmation.
The Mobil station has seen a little decrease in profit from the lack of school kids coming in the few times a day that they used to. Owner Surjit Singh reported business was overall doing OK, and graciously accepted the Chamber’s help of PPE.
Some non-essential businesses have helped each other out during the pandemic. Bear Spirit, a Native American silversmith, and The Trading Post, an antique gift store, have been referring customers to each other’s store.
“Some businesses will not recover,” said Golden Bear, owner of Bear Sprit. “We’ve lost $25,000 in sales this year. It’s just a difficult time. I feel sorry for the bars and food businesses like Gooney’s.”
According to Gallino, the percentage of empty storefronts is “at a ballpark, 10-15%, maybe more.”
When asked what businesses are needed throughout the county, Gace and Gallino said there is a need for more food options, more shopping and more transportation services.
“This town (San Andreas) is not conducive to walking,” Gace said.
From the businesses that were interviewed, only about 25% were interested in receiving assistance from the Chamber. Seventy-five percent of the businesses reported to avoid news, social media or any government media regarding the blueprint for business regulations of COVID-19.
More business walks are being planned for Gace and Gallino, which means more opportunities to hear out the small businesses and see how the Chamber and the county can help.