Layoffs. Red tape. Anxiety. Small businesses fight to survive pandemic.

Layoffs. Red tape. Anxiety. Small businesses fight to survive pandemic.

Independent retailers, service providers confront challenges as they wait for shutdown to end

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Bhuvan Sahney, vice president of Gleim the Jeweler, looks into an empty jewelry case in the store in Stanford Shopping Center on April 13. The company still has 17 employees who are being paid a month since the shutdown started. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Gleim the Jeweler isn't about to throw in the towel because of the coronavirus. The Palo Alto jewelry store was born amid hard times.

"It opened on April Fool's Day 1931, in the middle of the Depression," said Georgie Gleim, the company president, whose grandfather Frederick founded the store.

Now the business is in its 89th year, and Gleim is determined it will survive whatever comes, even if she and company Vice President Bhuvan Sahney have to run the business' two stores — Gleim the Jeweler at Stanford Shopping Center and Bizzotto Boutique by Gleim the Jeweler at 540 University Ave. — all by themselves.

They are a long way from that point, however. The company still has 17 employees who are being paid and whose health insurance costs are 100% covered. The workers got their full wages during the first two weeks of the stay-at-home order and slightly reduced pay during the second two weeks so that everyone could stay on without hardship. After May 3, the company will reassess what it can do.

Gleim and Sahney are taking the biggest cuts.

"Georgie and I are not taking salaries," Sahney said, noting that the welfare of their employees comes first.

 

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