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Coronavirus and its impact on small businesses: what comes next?

Small businesses say they're having to make hard decisions.

MINNEAPOLIS — Headlines like this one on MarketWatch are rattling the small business community. According to the article, 45 days of dire times may be all it takes to crumble everything for a small business owner.

"It sounds pretty accurate," Nick Kramarczuk said. Kramarczuk is the manager of his family's European Deli. Kramarczuk's is a staple in Northeast Minneapolis, serving homemade sausages and other delights for nearly 70 years.

"The Easter holiday is really big for us, so we were getting ready to staff up and hire more people," Kramarczuk said. "Business was increasing and now, that's totally changed."

With Mayor Jacob Frey's and Governor Tim Walz' orders of shutting down dine-in services, Kramarczuk said it's really starting to hit him that times are changing.

"It's really a dilemma because you have to do what's morally right and what's in the best interest of public health," Kramarczuk said. "But at the same time, you're operating a business. We've been in business for a better part of the century and a couple of bad months could really be devastating."

He said he's hoping it doesn't come to that and so far, his team is whole.

"We haven't officially laid anyone off yet, we're just kind of having faith in the system that things will be back to normal as quickly as possible," he said. 

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Others haven't been as lucky. Davis Senseman, an attorney who works with small businesses and nonprofits said they assisted five business owners make one of the hardest decisions on Monday.

"They just had to wrap their heads around, 'I want to keep paying them, I want to do what's right for them,' and then get to the point of what's right for them might actually be me telling them that they're laid off and immediately get on unemployment and have some income coming in," Senseman said.

Senseman also said people are wrong to think that majority of businesses have a cushy rainy-day-fund.

"There's talks swirling of [the government] putting trillions of dollars into the economy to help businesses," Senseman said. "Those are really big businesses that get bail outs. These small businesses are not. A lot of them won't qualify for loans and loans are the only options for small businesses."

And when it comes down to paying their employees their last dime, or having enough money to weather this storm and still have a standing business in the end, Senseman said they are advising the latter.

"If you don't pay your rent and your commercial landlord throws you out of your space, it's really not going to matter that we're paying these people for a week because there's not going to be a business to employ them again," Senseman said.

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It's a balancing act for businesses of all sizes. Kramarczuk said everyone has the same goal and intentions--and that many would gladly spill their own resources into keeping the business alive.

"We've been around for 67 years, we'd like to stick around longer," he said. "We'd like to be there for our customers in the future. We're going to do whatever it takes to stay afloat but at the same time, we recognize that it's important for public health to follow the regulations put in place by the mayor and the governor."

Kramarczuk's, like many other restaurants, is no longer offering dine-in services. However, their kitchen is open for take-out orders as well as deliveries. Their market and deli located on the opposite side of the dining room is open and maintaining normal hours. 

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here.

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