As businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley adjust to the latest restrictions in another stay-at-home order, some newer businesses haven’t been able to attain the assistance being offered through local, state and federal grants.
For a number of reasons, they’re now hosting virtual fundraisers, pleading for county assistance or, in some cases, ignoring the shutdown in order to keep their business in operation.
Struggle at The Farm
While the idea for The Farm SCV, an indoor baseball and softball training facility, had been in the works for years, co-owner Gino Camilleri and his partner had only just brought it to life in January.
“There really wasn’t a training facility for the youth,” Camilleri said. “And there’s even a park shortage, so when they’re all going at once, there is a shortage on fields, and it’d become a lottery system for the teams.”
It took two years for them to find the right facility, then renovate it to become a premiere training hub.
“It took us a while, and a lot of money came out of our pockets,” Camilleri added.
It seemed to pay off in January when they opened, though, as the 8,000-square-foot facility began to take off like wildfire, he said. “It was like the town was waiting for this.”
Within months, they found themselves shut down, unable to acquire any loans, limited to only a couple of the smaller grants.
“With us being so new, we didn’t have a year’s worth of bank statements to show the federal government or even the state to try to get another loan to help keep us open,” Camilleri said, adding he recently started a GoFundMe to try to make ends meet until they’re giving the green light to reopen. “I’ve exhausted every avenue.”
‘Desperate for help’
The Great American Barbershop in Stevenson Ranch also celebrated its grand opening at the end of January, only to close six weeks later.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of changes, as Public Health guidelines began evolving as the pandemic progressed. The shop reopened in June, only to close again weeks later, then to create an outdoor setup, complete with canopies and misters, only to be allowed back inside again.
“It’s been an hourly thing trying to keep up with what’s being requested,” said shop Manager Shannon Amary. “That’s what’s hurting most is just the uncertainty and having restrictions put in place, and then not so many restrictions, and then more restrictions.”
After finally getting their rhythm back, Amary said the most recent shutdown has hit the hardest.
“We were finally starting to make some headway, and then all this happened again,” she added. “It has been by far the craziest thing I’ve ever dealt with, ever.”
Andrew Aldama, a U.S. Army veteran and owner of the shop, started the business with Veterans Administration money he received for injuries received in service — money he also had to fight for for years, he added..
“I am desperate for help,” he wrote in an email. “I have tried to hang in there, but it seems I am not going to make it. I have been denied funding from most grants and loans because I did not have a track record of operation.
“We have been eligible for nothing because we haven’t been in business over a year,” Amary added. “It’s been a struggle.”
Even so, they’re hoping for some kind of relief to surface, as bills continue to come in, though they’re closed again.
“Everybody still wants their money,” Amary lamented, “but we have no money coming in to survive.”
Nowhere to turn
Another SCV business owner, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, admitted he’s not shutting down this time.
“It’s either I keep operating or I can’t put food on the table — it’s as simple as that,” he said. “My wife was also furloughed — that was nearly a year ago now — so without some income, we can’t provide for our kids.”
He will continue to abide by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines otherwise, he said, as he had been prior to the order — requiring customers and the few staff he has left to wear a mask and sanitize frequently.
“I haven’t had one case (of COVID-19) come out of here and don’t plan on changing that,” he added.
While he’s applied for various forms of COVID-19 relief grants and loans, he has yet to receive any.
“We just haven’t had a break,” he added. “Before this, I’d been in business for three years, and we’d done well for ourselves. I was responsible, and I even had a pretty hefty savings going, but that’s gone now. I don’t know where else to turn.”