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Small Business Saturday more important than ever amid COVID-19

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Struggling mom and pop owners are desperately hoping for a shot in the arm during Small Businesses Saturday’s annual shopping event, but early reports of lackluster Black Friday sales are dampening expectations, as the coronavirus continues to surge in the boroughs.

Steve Bulger, Regional Administrator of the Small Business Association urged holiday shoppers who are under quarantine or scared off by social distancing measures to find other ways to support the businesses that make up the lifeblood of their neighborhoods.

“Tri-state residents can offer it up in easy ways. First, purchasing online or over the phone. Buying gift certificates now to be used at a later date or even helping magnify your favorite small business’ online presence all will pay dividends. This support is crucial to helping New York small businesses weather the revenue and cash flow storms they are now going through due to state and local COVID-19 restrictions,” says Bulger.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced “Shop Your City,” an initiative to provide interest free loans of up to $100,000 to the city’s small businesses.

Business owners can apply for a piece of the 35 million dollar program beginning on Nov. 30.

“Shop your city, shop your neighborhood. It makes a huge difference,” de Blasio said Wednesday.

“We’re talking about small businesses people built with their own hands, with all their sweat and all their tears to make it finally work. And now, we’re seeing these businesses threatened. We’ve lost so many, more are threatened.”

Bulger says any help is “welcome and appreciated,” but adds, “$35 million is a tiny drop in the buck of what’s really required.”

“The SBA and our lending partners have already pumped close to $25 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans into NYC small businesses since March, and we stand ready to immediately deliver billions more once Congress approves it.”

Many non-essential small businesses like restaurants, bars, salons and gyms are facing the possibility of imminent closures amid a second wave of the virus.

Positive testing rates are expected to rise in the weeks following Thanksgiving, and small businesses in any area designated a red zone will be forced to close.

A summer report from The Partnership for New York City found that a third of the 230,000 small businesses could be driven out of businesses as foot traffic and tourism grinded to a standstill during the pandemic.