Small Detroit businesses fight to survive during pandemic shutdown

Several small businesses across Detroit is hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and could use any help it can get.

"It's been a struggle, this whole block is filled with beauty salons, boutiques, a gym," said Musheya Glenn. "That was 30 to 40 percent of my clientele and all of those shops had to close unfortunately."

For Glenn, the co-owner of The Detroit Taco Bar and Pasta Bowl on McNichols on the city's west side, it has been a fight to stay afloat.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down. The first wave of federal funding meant for small businesses like hers were gobbled up by bigger ones.

"We're mom and pop, we keep the neighborhoods going, you know what I mean, so yeah, we need help, we need assistance," she said.

Musheya Glenn, the co-owner of The Detroit Taco Bar and Pasta Bowl on McNichols

"We've raised, due to the Restore The Village Fund initiative, right around $5,000 and all of those proceeds at least will go out towards everyone impacted by this pandemic," said Dwan Dandridge.

Dandridge is the founder and CEO of Black Leaders Detroit is helping African-American led businesses weather the pandemic by providing grants of at least $700 through its Restore The Village fund.

Detroiters are donating as little as $1 a week to help businesses survive. It may not sound like much, but it's helping some cover insurance costs and pay workers.

"We've always done the best we could as Detroiters with what we have," Dandridge said. "And with this initiative it's an invitation for folks who aren't millionaires to say you know what, I can stand to sacrifice a dollar a week to support other business owners in the city of Detroit and that's what we want to do create a platform where people can say you know what let me do what I can with what I have."

The National Business League says there are roughly 50,000 black-owned businesses in Detroit, many with just one to five employees.

Revenue for most is at a standstill, if not nosediving and many that were struggling before the pandemic -  may not be around after it.
Steve Radden, the owner of Steve's Soul Food believes extensive federal funding is the only way to keep things afloat.

"The little bit that they give you they just give you stuff that will just carry you over a month or two, but there's no long term remedy for it," Radden said.

Even so, those still open are fighting to stay open.

"Just continue to support small local businesses in your neighborhood who's feeding you and feeding your community," Glenn said. "We need it."

"We are always going to be hardest hit and have to find creative ways to dig ourselves out of the pit, so to speak," Dandridge said. "So we feel like this is an opportunity for all of Detroit to grab their shovels and start digging together." 

TechTown is also providing funding for small business owners in Detroit but their application process is closed. If you want more information on the Restore The Village Fund, go here.