Grant money helping Frayser small business owners survive COVID-19

Small business owners survive COVID-19, but will their business

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While many restaurants can survive on curbside or takeout, it’s a different story for retail stores.

Retailers like Sherrod Furniture off North Watkins Road in Frayser rely heavily on people being able to walk in and inspect their merchandise.

Peggy Jefferson and her husband, James, were forced to shut down their store in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their store was considered a non-essential business.

The shutdown came right in the middle of their most lucrative season.

“Tax season, that’s our big one,” said Jefferson. “We did enough during those months to carry us through the rest of the year.”

Right before the Jeffersons got the go-ahead to reopen, they faced another setback in May.

She and her husband both tested positive for COVID-19.

“He was recuperating in the hospital trying to get himself together,” said Jefferson. Retail stores across the country have struggled to survive. Major retailers filing for bankruptcy and closing multiple stores. The same can be said for small businesses.

Last month, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce CEO said one in five businesses across the area have had to close their doors.

The Jeffersons, like so many other small businesses, were denied federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

With fewer customers, making ends meet became difficult.

“I was just trusting God. Some way, somehow we was going to make it,” said Jefferson.

Then came a bit of good news Friday.

The EDGE Board approved their furniture store for the NEED Grant, a program offering cash to small businesses operating in Memphis’ most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Jefferson received a $8,000 grant. She plans to buy more inventory for her business.

“I said whew that will make a big difference,” said Jefferson.

She says she’s lived in Frayser for close to 30 years, and she plans to keep her business there beyond this pandemic.

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