Michigan small businesses challenged by pandemic now face new obstacles

'We are just working our butts off to keep our doors open.'
Posted at 1:49 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 17:46:41-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Local business owners say they finally feel like they are getting their footing again after nearly two years of shutdowns and slow sales.

Quiana Broden, the owner of The Kitchen by Cooking with Que, a plant-based restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, said to survive the pandemic, she had to use old school sales tactics.

“Anyone that was working during the pandemic, I was cold calling, because I was like, 'y’all got to be hungry,'” Broden said.

Cold calling and making meal preparations kept cash coming in. Even though there were days she didn’t know how the business was going to stay open, it did. Now, her business is blossoming once again.

“It’s really exciting to see,” Alexa Kramer with the Small Business Association said.

Kramer says for the first time since the start of the pandemic, small business owners surveyed by the Small Business Association felt more optimistic about their short and long-term success.

According to a Harvard study, total small business revenue is up 24% compared to 2020.

But while business owners feel like business is better overall, staffing and supply chain shortages threaten their progress.

“I would say staffing is our biggest issue,” DeKoven Humes co-owner of Mature, a luxury men’s apparel store said.

68% of business owners surveyed by the Small Business Association say they are having a hard time keeping and hiring staff.

Quiana Broden says pay is one of the reasons.

“You’re going against big corporations like a McDonald's and Burger King and now, their wages were down at $9 and $10. But now, they’re paying $13 to $14 and we have to compete with that,” Broden said

Small businesses are also battling inflation.

“A cauliflower was $1.99 and now it’s $7.99,” Broden said.

Supply chain shortages are also causing shipping and re-stocking delays, according to Humes. But according to the SBA, local businesses are seeing a slight improvement in that area.

“I think the state of small business right now is we are just working our butts off to keep our doors open,” Broden said of the overall situation.

And while businesses continue to grapple with the long-lasting effect of the pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, "coming soon” signs indicate a state of progression.

“We did see the America entrepreneurial spirit come alive through the pandemic,” Humes said.

For National Small Business Week, both owners want to remind the public that the best way to support small businesses is by shopping and eating locally. They also want to remind metro Detroiters to be patient as staffing and supply shortages may slow down their production.