Chamber News

April 13, 2020 Likes Comments

It’s heartbreaking what’s happening to our small businesses

ReibmansI grew up in a retail family. Pictured here is my dad's children's clothing store in Torrington, Connecticut.

Around the corner from his store, my grandmother, aunt and uncle ran a curtain shop. An hour drive away, in Middletown, another uncle owned a woman’s clothing store.
My brothers, sisters and I spent Saturdays and vacations working in those various stores. It’s what we talked about at dinner.
Their stores closed decades ago. That generation has passed on.
But I’ve thought of them often as I’ve talked to many of you over the past month.
So many of you have devoted your lives and poured your hearts into your businesses. It’s how you provide for your family and the employees who’ve become your extended family.
It’s more than a livelihood. It’s part of your DNA.
It’s heartbreaking what’s happening to our small businesses; with a no clear path and a very uncertain future.
Competing with the internet and big box stores was hard enough. Now, the federal loans and other measures feel insufficient, even if they had been rolled out properly, which they absolutely haven’t.
Still, I’m optimistic because I also know how resilient and entrepreneurial many of you are. As long as the rest of us are there to support you, many (but let’s be honest, not all) of our businesses will endure.
Your chamber is here to advocate for you. We’ll pass along what we know as soon as we hear it. On Tuesday, we’ve arranged for another webinar about those all-important (but frustratingly hard to nail down) SBA loans. Scroll down for details about that and this week’s other webinars.
I only wish we could do more.
A new initiative for retailers
 Last month, the chamber created the Takeout Challenge to encourage our communities to support local restaurants through takeout and delivery.
Now the chamber’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) is kicking off a campaign to support our local retailers that are still doing business through gift cards or e-commerce, just as the federal stimulus checks begin arriving.
The YPG hopes to encourage everyone who has the means to shop locally through a “Take Your Stimulus to Small Business” campaign.
To start, we need to hear from as many retailers as possible. If your store, salon or other business is currently closed but is offering gift cards (online or by phone) and/or have e-commerce options, send the details to Tiffany Chen. Be sure to include links to any gift card purchase platforms and so we can produce a page listing e-commerce options, similar to our Takeout Challenge page to promote shopping local.
Small Business Counseling
The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Southeast Regional Office provides free, confidential, one-to-one business assistance and free and low-cost training to prospective and existing small businesses. Details here.
And if you have questions about SBA loans or a loan application, you can also contact SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email You may also direct inquiries and questions to the SBA District Office email at: If you need help finding a banker here’s a list of the chamber’s member banks.
 Carol Chantal, the pharmacist at Bird’s Hill Compounding Pharmacy in Needham wrote to say they have small bottles of hand sanitizer for sale to the public and larger quantities for health care professional facilities or for local businesses.
Stay in touch. Just don’t touch.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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