SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The owner of The Chocolate Dipper on South Main Street in Salinas is closing up shop for good amid COVID-19 pandemic-related hardships.
Tina Vanderpluym says she has seen a 90 percent drop in sales ever since the shelter-in-place order forced her to reduce production in mid-March. She says she has been a part of the popular chocolate confectionery shop since she was in high school.
"Our candies are not like your typical run-of-the-mill because everything is made with love. That's how I love to say it," she said.
Vanderpluym has owned the business for 14 years, selling their famous dipped apples and chocolates for fundraisers and sales. When the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order went out in March, Vanderpluym thought she was going to be able to hold on, applying for federal government small business loans.
"We did the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) just like when it opened up, we did it. I felt like maybe we had a good shot," she said.
But it is the end of April now. The sheltering in place remains, and that government loan never came.
Sales used to average about $55,000 a month at The Chocolate Dipper. Now, it is less than $5,000.
Vanderpluym says she is now forced to close up the shop, unable to keep up with rent and electricity payments. Even though rent is deferred, it will still have to be paid back.
She is frustrated with the news that large businesses like Ruth's Hospitality Group and even Harvard University received in millions in loans meant for small businesses. She also wishes more people would shop local.
"Sorry, but McDonald's, Burger King, those guys. They can survive. But us small businesses, we can't," she said. "We rely on our recipients, we rely on our customers. We do."
Federal government loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan were depleted quickly. Congress only approved hundreds of billions in more funding a week ago. But there is a whole country of businesses trying to get this money all at once.
Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Farmer says if you simply cannot get any small business loans, try negotiating with your landlords.
"They've got to try to negotiate what they can. Because it also doesn't benefit the property owner if businesses go out of business and then they have a vacant space," said Farmer.
Vanderpluym says she only needs about $25,000 to remain afloat for the next few months. She is hoping other business owners will speak up if they are in trouble.
"If they are hurting they need to start speaking up now. Because I would never want to see them in the same position as me," she said.
She plans to close The Chocolate Dipper next Saturday, May 9.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Chocolate Dipper located on 847 South Main Street on the corner of West Acacia in Salinas is shuttering its doors after years of providing fundraising opportunities and general culinary delight to residents.
The owner of the shop tells KION the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders in Monterey County have led to a depletion of their cashflow, with as much as a 90 percent loss in revenue since the order began in March.
The business has not yet received any government loans promised to small businesses who apply, including the Paycheck Protection Program loan and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
KION's Josh Kristianto will have more on this story tonight at 10 and 11 p.m.