Call it the Pineapple Revolt.
That’s in honor of the owner of the Pineapple Hill Grill & Saloon in Los Angeles, California – Angela Marsden. She’s been saying what millions of small business owners and their employees across America are thinking right now as a new wave of shutdowns decimates the small business community.
Angela spent thousands of dollars of her own money to ensure her outside dining facility was safe for customers, but then the city of Los Angeles forced her to close.
Then, when she came to work the next morning, she found a Hollywood film crew set up down the street with outdoor dining for the cast and crew. So she said: “I’m losing everything… everything that I own is being taken away from me… but right next to me, as a slap in my face, that’s safe?”
Marsden is not alone in her anger. Small business owners and their employees have suffered disproportionately from government shutdowns and mandates at every stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only have they been pushed to the brink of collapse, but they have also been treated unequally, with big business competitors often labeled “essential” and given preferential treatment. They have been forced to close while the politically favored follow a different set of rules.
No wonder so many of these entrepreneurs are furious. Combined, America’s small businesses are the third-largest economy in the world. They are responsible for half of America’s GDP and create almost half of all new private-sector jobs.
They are the cornerstone of American communities from coast to coast, supporting the Little League games, the charity drives, the music programs, the food banks, and countless other worthy causes. Now they are being treated as expendable and irrelevant.
Why? They’ve borrowed and scraped together the money to make their businesses safe during the pandemic, protecting customers and workers alike. They’ve worked late nights and long weekends complying with restrictions and going the extra mile to stay in business and operate safely.
Now they get the message: Your hard work doesn’t matter. You’ll be shut down anyway.
And where is Congress during all this? Our own research at the National Federation of Independent Business shows that one in five small businesses will not make it over the next five months without some form of financial assistance.
Millions of small business owners are trying to hang on, keep their workers employed and their doors open.
They need Congress to pass a second round of PPP funding, a simple loan forgiveness process, the ability to deduct their loan expenses so they don’t get crushed by a tax bill they cannot pay and COVID-19 liability protections so they aren’t sued out of business by the trial bar.
Small business owners want to operate responsibly. They want to protect their employees and their customers and keep their communities healthy. But they want to do this while keeping their doors open.
When a small business has to close its doors, the impact ripples across the lives of so many – workers who lose their income and ability to feed their families, communities that lose crucial jobs, and owners who lose their life savings and homes.
Small businesses deserve better from Congress. They deserve better from their state and local officials.
It would be nice if small businesses were given the same respect and equal treatment as the Hollywood producers, the big-box retailers, and the politically favored. If they can open, if they can operate, so can the small businesses on which every community depends.
Angela Marsden put it best: “People wonder why I’m protesting… I have had enough.”
Small businesses and their workers have been under siege for too long. Lawmakers, are you listening?
Brad Close is president of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).