Over and over again, on television, online, and in print, “opening up” or “reopening” the economy or some variation thereof is repeated over and over again as if the simple act of setting up shop guarantees you a profitable income stream. It’s magical thinking. The reality is that businesses in those sectors of the economy that have had to cease operations will all face a pronounced lack of demand for some time to come. To resume operations is to accept that, for a time, your once-profitable business will become a money pit and activity will have to be subsidized until, hopefully, demand returns to where losses are no longer inescapable.
Founder and former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, may be a billionaire but he can remember back to when Starbucks was just a local coffee shop and so he understands the really insurmountable barriers the owners of these kinds of businesses are facing.The hundreds of thousands of tiny businesses that employ less than twenty people but account for 48% of American jobs. These folks are caught between a rock and a hard place.. These business owners simply do not have the resources at hand nor do they have the borrowing power to make it through what certainly won’t resemble a “grand reopening” so much as it will starting from scratch after a bankruptcy. The business that, viewed from the outside, appears simply to be resuming operations is really doing nothing of the sort — it’s a startup without a base of customers it can count on. The main consideration is going to be, as it is with any startup: how long can we continue to operate at a loss?
This part of the economy doesn’t have high priced lobbyists to look after their interests in Washington. Let’s hope there are those who can see past the nonsense of the frame “reopening the economy” far enough at least to provide these folks a lifeline.
Here’s Howard Schultz on the subject: