I have retired for 10 years after being the owner of retail bakeries in our family since 1952. When I see politicians speak about bailing out the airlines and hotel industries I question whether they forgot about the heart of our country, especially the small business owner in the food industry. The government just mandated the small biz owners pay 14 days sick pay and 30 days family leave.
I think that is a great idea but everyone forgets no one is walking in the door and the food business so where do these owners get the money to pay sick and family leave? The government is talking about "loans" for small business. Really? The big guys get free dollars and the small businessperson has to pay probably for the rest of their lives?
Please read the letter below from John Lupo III, my good friend and president of the Retail Bakers. I think he says it best:
"The hospitality industry is suffering. I'm not sure how we'll make it. I've received numerous emails and voicemails from bankers eager to help us out with an SBA loan. Unfortunately that won't work for our industry.
"Consider this: There has been a natural disaster. An event we have no control over. The banks and the SBA are willing to lend us money at 3.75%. - money they get from the Fed at 0%. and they will extend the term so we can spend the rest of our lives paying off the Coronavirus so that landlords, insurance companies, utility companies, etc. can be made whole as a result of this catastrophe.
"While all of these companies can have their employees work remotely our industry was ordered to close or move to curbside pickup or takeout only. Our sales are down over 50% and continue to drop each day. We are supplying hospitals, grocery stores and foodservice companies with breads and sweet goods. I agree with our Governor's decision to shut things down but without aid, we don't have a chance to survive. We can't be asked to take out loans to finance and pay for the shutdown of our economy.
"What we need is business interruption income. Just like the income we would get from the insurance we carry for unforeseen business catastrophes. The problem is these policies specifically exempt coverage for viruses. If the insurance industry can give us income for our actual sustained losses, and then be reimbursed by state and federal funds, we have a chance.
"Without that you will see the entire industry collapse. April 1st is really the first significant date. That's when mortgage payments, lease payments, insurance payments etc. are due. Without help, that's when the wheels start to come off the bus.
"This is extremely important. Please take the time to contact your state and federal representatives. They need to take quick, decisive action to save thousands of small businesses. Copy and paste my letter if you'd like. Just do it.
Submitted by Matthew D'Agostino, Certified Master Baker
Former owner, La Bonboniere Bake Shoppes