Downtown Los Angeles could be uniquely exposed to the economic impact of the pandemic due to its high concentration of boutique retailers and mom and pop restaurants. These independent retailers are most exposed to the economic pressures caused by the pandemic. These include mandatory closings, limited capacity, and health and safety guidelines. However, Nick Griffin of DCBID Independent retailers can also adapt better to new market conditions than large chains.
"I think you could go both ways," Griffin, executive director at DCBID, told GlobeSt.com. “I would argue that a diverse ecosystem of small businesses has a level of resilience and flexibility that larger chains often don't. During that time we have opened several new stores and they are doing well. I was also delighted to see how innovative and resilient these small businesses are. You can see what is happening and move or zoom in and out of your model as needed. It really is a testament to the importance of these small businesses. "
While these companies did a good job adjusting and moving the business forward during the pandemic – even in the face of significant challenges – the DCBID is devoting tremendous resources to keeping these companies going. This includes the DTLA Recovery Compass program, a bi-weekly survey that delivers data to local businesses to help them respond to market demands and needs. “It is a very difficult time for small businesses and we are devoting great efforts to small businesses. They are the elixir of life and the one-of-a-kind specialty sauce of downtown Los Angeles, and in some ways the most vulnerable, ”says Griffin. "We go to great lengths to support them."
Landlords also play an important role in helping small businesses weather this economic disruption. “Landlords really understand the struggles of businesses and the role they play in small business success,” Griffin says. "They change with the environment, including switching to a percentage lease or postponing rent or a number of different things."
Like small businesses, landlords – many of whom are small operators themselves – are getting creative in dealing with lost revenue from the pandemic. "Landlords have also become very innovative, and it's in their best interests because one bird in hand is worth two in the bush," says Griffin. “It is much better to help an existing tenant weather the storm than having to try to find a new tenant in the middle of the pandemic. I think the landlords have realized that it is in their best interest to support existing tenants. "