COVID-19 scam alert for small business owners
HOUSTON – The Federal Trade Commission is warning small business owners about the latest COVID-19 scam. With a new round of Payroll Protection Program loans now available, scammers are impersonating Small Business Administration employees, calling owners to trick them into giving up information. The FTC says real lenders will never call you and solicit you for a loan you haven’t even applied for. The feds say these are likely phishing attempts from criminals who could illegally apply for loans using your information. You should also never fill out loan applications online from lenders you don’t know to be legitimate.
Nearly 350,000 unemployed Texans don't qualify for extra $300 weekly benefit
More than 1.7 million Texans are receiving unemployment benefits during the recession, but more than 347,000 don't qualify for an extra $300 a week that could start this week. Those Texans could change their status when filling out future payment requests, Gamez said, and could then qualify for the extra $300 payments. In total, about 1.7 million Texans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, Gamez said, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend businesses across the state. Since Trump announced the extra weekly payments in early August, Texans have said theyve been confused about whether, and when, they will receive the money. But for the approximately 347,700 Texans who do not qualify, they will continue to see the same unemployment payments theyve been receiving in August, after the extra $600 weekly payments expired.
Small businesses targeted by pandemic crime spree, HPD says
HOUSTON – At least 11 small businesses have been targeted by the same group of thieves this summer, according to the Houston Police Department. The crime ring seems to be focused in north Houston. Veteran HPD Detective Greg Shelton said he identified and arrested the alleged ring leader, Derrion McCowan, 41. All of the businesses the group ransacked were individually owned, according to HPD. Derrion McCowan, 41, the alleged ring leader, was arrested in connection to the burglary ring in north Houston, according to the Houston Police Department.
Mexican businesses struggling in pandemic with little help
MEXICO CITY – Mexican business owners are trying to cling to life — often unsuccessfully — in an economic recession profoundly deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic and with almost no assistance from the government. Business owners report extending credit to clients while laying off workers, cutting their hours or reducing their salaries. The National Small Business Alliance said Tuesday that more than 150,000 mostly small businesses have been forced to close amid the pandemic. Their most recent survey, presented Tuesday, showed that 79% of business owners said their clients didn’t have enough money to cover the basic food basket, he said. Instead, he has offered $1,000 in low-interest credits to small businesses, as well as credits to some workers in the informal sector.
'We’re going bankrupt’: Bar owners planning on holding rally in Austin Tuesday
AUSTIN, Texas – A southwest Houston bar owner said he’s heading to the State Capitol in Austin to get answers. Jay Norman, owner of Biggles Lounge & Sports Café, said he has organized a rally at the state Capitol Tuesday. “Restaurants that have bars in them – they’re open, they’re making money, but these small bars, they’re not allowed to be open. “Gyms, salons, grocery stores, banks, everybody else is allowed to be open,” Norman said. “We have to get open.”According to Norman, the rally will take place Tuesday, May 12 outside the State Capitol in Austin at 9 a.m.
Some local gyms in survival mode during stay home order
HOUSTON – Some local gyms are in survival mode as they attempt to adapt to the stay home, work safe order. He said he is now offering virtual classes on Facebook Live and Zoom. The owner of CrossFit Hippo in the Katy area, George Giles, said that he has been losing members daily since the order went into effect. “I think the far-reaching effect that this has on homes and families, we will not know the damage this caused for years. The funding and all of that is great but it is going to get here too late,” Giles said.
Beauty businesses offering DIY grooming kits, tutorials to help clients through pandemic
HOUSTON – As hair and nail salons in Houston remain closed people are starting to taking grooming into their own hands. “I’m getting married in August so we’ve been prepping my skin,” Pena said. She said stress and cloth face masks have been taking a toll on her client’s skin. It’s a whole household.”Along with the kit, she’s offering one-on-one virtual calls and tutorial videos to help walk her clients though what to do. She said since the quarantine brow kits have been selling so well she may sell them full-time.
Takeout Shoutout: Mamarita’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Pasadena
PASADENA, Texas – Mamarita’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina is a Tex-Mex restaurant that offers a series of unique twists on traditional favorites. Its sizzling fajitas are a must order and its “Spencer Special” is a delicious dish that will blow you away. What we love about this restaurant is its fresh approach to Tex-Mex cuisines. Mamarita’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, located at 7325 Spencer Highway, has been around for a long time and we want them to be here for a good deal longer. The next time you are ready for a take out order with a Tex-Mex slant, make it Mamarita’s.
How small businesses are preparing for retail-to-go services during pandemic
HOUSTON – Brick and mortar retail stores that were deemed non-essential took a big hit when stay at home orders were issued across state, but Friday could mark a turning point toward normalcy. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas, starting April 24, non-essential stores will be allowed to operate on a “to-go” basis with curbside service. Small business owners prepare for comebackThat includes Simply Scents Candle Co. on Almeda Road in Houston's Third Ward. Like a lot of small business owners, Shan Greggs wasn’t sure what would happen to her livelihood when the Harris County stay home order was issued March 24. "If the customers still get to shop with you, you just have to bring it out curbside, I think it's great.
Takeout Shoutout: Maga’s Restaurant serving home-cooked Mexican food in southwest Houston
HOUSTON – Maga’s is a very small, family-owned restaurant specializing in home-cooked Mexican food. She and her family run a very simple, hard-working, restaurant that offers traditional dishes, salads and some pasta. Nothing fancy, just good food for good prices and prepared with lots of love. The restaurant is struggling financially right now with the coronavirus crisis and needs the community help. Maga’s Restaurant is located at 1123 Dumble Street in southeast Houston.
Katy Chinatown restaurateur helping struggling small restaurants
KATY, Texas – Perched at the bar, Chef Alex Au-Yeung worked on his menu. Chef Au-Yeung decided to help other small business owners in the restaurant industry by either selling or promoting their products in his restaurant. Proceeds don’t benefit Chef Au-Yeung and all the money goes back to business Au-Yeung has helped. Along with selling a restaurant’s product, Chef Au-Yeung also ran a special promotion to pitch another business’ hot sauce. The two met via Houston Food Finder, a local website that follows Houston’s food scene.
‘This is unprecedented': barbershop owner speaks about the uncertainty of coronavirus
HOUSTON – Nick Howard, owner of Barber to the Stars barbershop, has been forced to shut down the business due to the coronavirus. "We've never seen anything like this; this is unprecedented," Howard said. Harris County designated barbershops, nail salons, and other personal service businesses as non-essential businesses this week, ordering them all to close to encourage social distancing. Located in west Houston, Barber to the Stars has been closed for almost a week, Howard said. “I hate to say it but, they’re going to be a lot (of businesses) that will close,” Howard said.
Pizza business adapting to coronavirus concerns
HOUSTON – While many businesses are closed due to the spread of coronavirus, others are still open like Star Pizza in the Heights. Gasper said the biggest difference now is a temporary shift in the business model. ”All that business that we would have in-house has pretty much transferred all over to take out and delivery,” he said. "We’ll call them and let them know that it is there.”Despite the worries for many as coronavirus continues to spread, businesses are working to stay as safe as possible. "We’ll be here as long as we’re able to and continue to serve the city of Houston.
5 simple ways you can support local businesses during coronavirus pandemic
While there isn’t a whole lot we can do as restrictions are put in place, there are a few measures we can take to support our favorite local businesses during these unsettling times. Buy gift cards from your favorite restaurant or boutique. We’re all pretty used to shopping online (Amazon Prime Day is basically a holiday at this point), so one way you can support a local business is shopping from your computer or cellphone. Not all boutiques or retail stores may have the option to offer online shopping, but if they do, it’s a great way to support a small business and practice social distancing. Not everyone is able to do this, but if your income won’t be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, consider a donation to a local business that could need it.