By Isabel Marcheselli
WESTFIELD – For some businesses in Westfield, the colossal challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant permanent closings.
Some businesses have closed abruptly while others quietly slipped out of everyday operations almost imperceptibly. To date, businesses that have shut their doors include Puffer Printing, The Groomer Pet Grooming and Pet Supplies, Tung Shing Chinese restaurant, Metro PCS, Munchy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and the Mobile Station on Route 10 and 202, JP’s Totally Baked Goods and Frankenhair salon, Gorilla Vapes and more.
According to Peter J. Miller, director of Westfield’s Community Development office, emergency grants of up to $10,000 have been administered to struggling businesses since April, but for some of them, this sum has not been enough to pull them out of hardship, as in the case of Munchy’s, formerly located at 24 North Elm St. He also said that unemployment has gone up to 11% in Westfield due to the pandemic’s impact on retail and restaurants. And although Gov. Charlie Baker has loosened restrictions on indoor dining, restaurant owners are facing the need for an alternative to the end of outdoor dining as winter approaches.
“The most vulnerable businesses are restaurants,” said Miller, adding that “a lot of the restaurants have a very loyal following and that’s what’s going to help them get through . . . the answer for each restaurant is going to be different. What’s necessary for one restaurant might not be necessary for another.”
Miller said that some businesses, however, have held up well during these tough times, such as the golf industry which has experienced an increase in play on local courses. The financial services field and warehouse industry have also been performing well. Paradoxical trends have been noticed, particularly in the housing industry.
“Some people are unable to make mortgage payments and yet sales of residential real estate are moving quickly,” said Miller.
Miller stated that $60,000 in funds are left of emergency grant aid for local businesses in need and that grant applications are still being accepted by the Westfield Community Development office which is open and staffed. To apply for a grant, call (413) 572-6246.