Lemoore woman struggles to save her small business from being destroyed by COVID-19

LEMOORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crystal Akeredolu met Karen Pence at Naval Air Station Lemoore last summer.

She says the second lady encouraged her and other military spouses to consider opening a small business, something Akeredolu had already been thinking about doing.

Akeredolu put together a strong business plan, and with the help of her family, opened Keba's Boutique in Downtown Lemoore on February 29th of this year.

But as the coronavirus spread in the days that followed, sales slowed, and then came to a grinding halt.

"I mean we just plummeted, and that's been the hardest part cause it's like, 'Ok so what now?' We just fell so hard and so fast."

Akeredolu temporarily closed the store less than three weeks after their grand opening when California's Governor issued a 'stay at home' order.

She set up a website, but so far she's only gotten two orders - and those are from her friends.

"It is so devastating to walk into your business that in every sense of the word is failing," Akeredolu said. "But I feel like it's failing because I don't have the support that I should have."

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Like small businesses around the country, Akeredolu has applied for the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

But the process was frustrating, and she has concerns about the application questions that relate to 2019 revenues because she didn't open her small business until 2020.

The small business administration's Fresno District Office says applications are being handled on a case-by-case basis, and there's more than one factor when it comes to program eligibility.

"The SBA will evaluate each application separately and make determinations for eligibility and loan amount based on the information that the business owner provides," SBA Fresno District Director Dawn Golik said.

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Golik says small business owners in the Valley are starting to receive their loans.

She adds there's also local assistance available for those still waiting for an answer, like Akeredolu.

"If a business is interested in talking with one of these organizations, at no charge, they can either go the sba.gov website, and search for local assistance, or they can also contact our office either via e-mail fresno@sba.gov or they can call our main number 559-487-5791."

Akeredolu is still taking online orders here.

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