Study shows minority-owned small businesses disproportionately impacted by pandemic, Wichita businesses tell their stories

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Opening up Pretty Tress Beauty Supply Boutique was a dream for Whitney Marshall.

“I worked really hard to be in this position and be a business owner,” she said.

The pandemic quickly throwing a wrench in her plans shortly after opening.

“It was really scary. Just opening up and not even like two weeks later having to shut completely down, and not being able to pay vendors and rent,” Marshall said.

Fortunately, Marshall is making it work but money can be tight.

“We didn’t even get a chance to hire employees because we just couldn’t afford it. So, right now, I’m running the business 100% every day until we can get in a position to hire people,” she said.

A recent study by Small Business Majority says the pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority-owned small businesses.

The study, done found that 60% of those businesses have not returned their headcounts to pre-pandemic levels. While 22% of business owners of color may lay off employees permanently, that’s compared to 14% of their white counterparts.

Taco Locale, co-owner Myranda Miller, said while their staff is small finding hours has been tough.

Their biggest challenge though has been funding.

“We’re constantly worrying, and it’s just a day-to-day thing. We’re looking into our options, you know, as far as funding goes, and especially during these slow months, it’s a struggle,” Miller said.

The study found of those minority-owned businesses that applied for PPP loans last year, over half found it challenging to apply.

“It was kind of like, we were at the bottom of the bucket every single time because all of these big major companies and stuff like that usually depleted the funding before it even got to us,” Marshall said.

Wichita Cheesecake Company noticed the same issue with grant relief.

“We applied and we didn’t receive anything and where larger businesses, you know, were receiving some of that grant money,” said Mark Daniels, owner and operator of the Wichita Cheesecake Company.

Despite that, Daniels said being a small business has had its upside.

“We didn’t have the high overheads that some of the larger establishments have. You know, that actually made it possible for us to go through the pandemic and come out you know, pretty decent on the other side.”

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