What Are the Small Businesses Thriving Today?

While hundreds of small businesses have had to close amid the pandemic and under uncertain economic conditions, some have not only found their way through it, but managed to thrive.

“For some small businesses, the tricky circumstances of the pandemic present an opportunity,” writes Eryn Brown in The Los Angeles Times.

“Just as some people have succumbed to COVID and others hardly feel ill at all — that applies to the economy as well,” said Inc. magazine editor Scott Omelianuk in the story by Brown.

Different Reasons for Success

The types of small businesses and reasons behind their successes in a pandemic vary – some are in industries best suited for ecommerce or they have products and services that are in higher demand.

Or attribute it to a combination of factors, whether it’s funding assistance, perseverance, or the ingenuity of small business owners to pivot and create a thriving model.

“The pandemic shifts resources from some players to others,” Brown writes. “Some surcharges and tips that used to wind up in the pockets of restaurant servers now go to delivery workers.

“Retail and other high-touch service businesses such as boutiques and hair salons struggle. Tech businesses seem to thrive.”

Finding Their Way

Nine months into the pandemic crisis, more than a quarter of the businesses remain closed, at least temporarily, according to data from Opportunity Insights, a research group at Harvard University, according to a New York Times article by Stacy Cowley and Amy Haimerl.

Yet for others, the pandemic-induced demand has been a boon for their businesses.

“Small-business owners serving customers who are trapped at home, shopping online and seeking outdoor adventures have tallied record sales,” they write.

Among the small businesses experiencing a boost is Happy Cork, a wine shop in Brooklyn owned by Sunshine Foss and her husband Remo – cited in the New York Times story for its success. Sales soared, Foss said, as other businesses in her neighborhood closed down.

The store had its share of slow sales before the pandemic but started to thrive after the pandemic increased demand for wine by the bottle and the case. In April, the store’s sales had doubled, she told the New York Times. And sales increased in the summer too as customers looked for more products made by Black-owned businesses, a specialty for Happy Cork.

New, Different Customers

Like others in her industry, Dora Herrera saw business at the family’s 44-year-old restaurant business, Yuca’s, plummet fast after COVID-19 kept customers away from its two popular taco shacks, in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

The business is now relying mostly on takeout orders but a pivot to the pandemic no-contact conditions has led to new customers, she told the LA Times.

For example, when the tamale-making class that she held at Yuca’s every Christmas season had to be moved online it drew 40 people, some from as far away as Mexico, New York and London, she told the LA Times. Now her plan includes offering more cooking classes online.

The High Demand

Small businesses that offer design or remodeling services are among those seeing unexpected success during the pandemic, including CG&S Design-Build in Austin.

“I think everyone is spending time at home and recognizing that their space doesn’t work,” said Dolores Guerrero Davis, who owns the design and remodel business with her husband, Stewart Davis, in the New York Times story.

Thriving With Purpose

Cristina Morales Heaney, national board chair of The National Association of Women Business Owners, has her take on what is helping some of the small businesses to thrive during the pandemic.

“A common thread between those weathering the storm most successfully was this: They had an authentic and integrated commitment to a purpose larger than profitability or growth,” she writes on the NAWBO website.