Jacksonville, Fla. — While most small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak some experts predict 40% of black-owned businesses across the country will not be able to recover from the shutdowns.
Main Street Grocery and Supply has been the backbone for neighbors in North Jacksonville for years.
“I used to have ten workers but now it’s only my husband and I,” Marie Charlemagne said.
Charlemagne and her husband have been running the business for the last 14 years.
“This has been a staple in the community for 65 years where black people were buying here,” Charlemagne explained.
Charlemagne told Action News Jax her business is where many local small businesses come to buy snacks, candy and other supplies.
But when the pandemic hit, she said it hurt her business.
“Most of the bars, restaurants and churches have stopped coming in. We use to have a lot of churches supporting us,” Charlemagne said.
COVID-19 has hit black communities hard, infecting and killing them at higher rates than other groups of people, according to an amFAR study.
Experts say the pandemic has also raised concerns about the survival of black businesses.
“All of our inventory is slimming down. You can see the hole,” Charlemagne said.
According to research from the University of California at Santa Cruz, by mid-April, 41% of black businesses closed their doors for good while only 17 percent of white-owned businesses shut down.
Charlemagne said that’s because many black businesses like hers have struggled because of a lack of relationships with big banks.
“Our people are looking for deals, just not with us,” Charlemagne said.
The owners here fear black-owned businesses will struggle even more if there is a second wave of coronavirus.
The owners have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to fix the roof that was damaged during Hurricane Irma.
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