How COVID-19 is affecting small businesses in Seattle

Andie Corban Mar 10, 2020
The Seattle skyline in 2019. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

How COVID-19 is affecting small businesses in Seattle

Andie Corban Mar 10, 2020
The Seattle skyline in 2019. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

With school closures and many people working from home, perhaps no local economy in the U.S. is weathering the effects of COVID-19 as much as Seattle. We checked in with a few small business owners in the area.

Miles Johnson, Fiori Floral Design

Miles Johnson opened Fiori Floral Design in 1995.

“Business has been good. I had not expected it to maintain at the level that it’s been. Some of our businesses, like weddings ans events that are coming up, fingers crossed that at the end of the month those will still continue.”

Miles Johnson, March 9, 2020

Cat Wilcox, Velouria Boutique

Cat Wilcox and her colleague own Velouria, which sells women’s clothing, accessories and gifts made by independent creators in the U.S. and Canada. Their store is located in an office neighborhood, and weekday traffic has been significantly down.

“We have been working over the past couple of years to have a much better online presence. Our minimum for free shipping domestically was $150 and now we’ve changed it to $50. Lowering that is a service to people who don’t feel like they can leave their homes.”

Cat Wilcox, March 9, 2020

Mike Donohue, Bob Johnson’s Pharmacy

Mike Donohue, the owner of Bob Johnson’s Pharmacy, started out as an intern at the pharmacy in 1978.

“Business has been really quite good and busy because of the coronavirus. We’ve sold things that we typically didn’t sell very well before, like masks and hand sanitizer. But I think the thing that’s really been influencing our volume is people getting emergency supplies of medication.”

Mike Donohue, March 9, 2020

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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