Small Businesses Survive During Recession

Despite economic crisis local businesses manage to stay afloat.

Two years after Millbrae was engulfed by the global recession, most of its local businesses, while continuing to struggle, have survived.

The financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath have claimed a few victims, but local business leaders say the community is fortunate that most establishments are hanging on.

"It's been okay. Not great and not bad, but okay," said Carlos Rocha, part owner of Mr. Pickles Deli.

John Ford, president of the Millbrae Chamber of Commerce is particularly thankful for the low failure rate.

"Most are holding back on hiring or expanding hours, but there have been a relatively small number of turn overs," he said.

However, some did not escape the economic calamity of bankruptcy. In 2008 the retail giant Mervyn's filed Chapter 11, effectively closing Millbrae's local department store for good and costing the city 112 jobs.

Large businesses tend to have less patience during times like these while local business remain resilient because the owners have no choice, according to Ford.

"Everyone is hanging on waiting for a turn around," he said. "There have only been a small number of failures, and usually someone is lining up to take the previous business's spot," Ford said, reffering the Living Collections furniture store which quickly occupied the vacated space of a framing shop on El Camino Real.

Some Millbrae businesses have fared well.

"We're always busy. It was slow when we first opened, but now we're practically busy every day," said Paige Gausman, an employee of Nubi Yogurt, located at 979 Broadway.

Employees at the franchise Subway, located in the same building, were too busy to comment on recent business.

These stores, combined with various other factors, may indicate signs of growth in the local economy.

Wall Street was caught off guard earlier this month when the Institute for Supply Management reported significant growth in the country's manufacturing sector, although employment continued to slide, with payroll processing company ADP reporting a decline of about 10,000 jobs in August.

However, Millbrae appears to be bucking that trend. According to statistics compiled by Dunn & Bradstreet's Selectory data service, there was no job loss at Millbrae's 10 largest employers during the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years, the most recent data available. In fact, the City of Millbrae added nine jobs.  


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