Small businesses struggle to stay afloat amid COVID-19

Gracia Hmelar, Managing Editor

Small businesses in Palo Alto continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 outbreak that caused a shelter-in-place order for Santa Clara County. Continuing into the second phase of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-part plan to reopen the state, businesses that are classified as essential are working hard to stay open.

Michaela Flower shop, located in downtown Palo Alto, is one establishment that remains open, continuing to take orders as they come in. Palo Alto High School alumnus Nick Le, whose family owns the quaint flower shop, said that sales are picking up again after dropping astronomically at the start of quarantine, with the help of advertisements.

“There was a definite drop at first,” Le said. “We don’t have the exact numbers but we usually used to have like 10-20 deliveries a day but for a couple days it dropped to around four or five. Sales picked up again once we bought an Instagram ad and have really picked up with Mother’s Day. We do expect sales to drop again after Mother’s Day and we are pretty concerned about that.”

Le said that it has been difficult adjusting to new safety protocols and that finding flowers is more challenging.

“My mom, the florist, wears gloves and a mask while making flower arrangements and my dad and I, who deliver flowers, do the same while also changing our protocol for delivery,” Le said. “We used to knock on the door and wait for someone to come out, but now it’s knock, leave it at the doorstep, and leave. Flowers are definitely harder to find/get now, so we’ve had to adjust to that.”

Rick’s Ice Cream, located in the Charleston Shopping Center in Palo Alto, also remains open for to-go orders only during the quarantine. Like Michaela’s, Rick’s has had a drastic decrease in sales, according to manager Kiki Khosla.

They are taking similar safety precautions while preparing orders, having employees wear gloves and masks, and disinfecting areas after the preparation of each order.

“The whole layout of the store had to be changed to accommodate to-go orders only, and the plastic sheets were installed in order to maintain the social distancing requirements,” Khosla said.