Kimberly’s Story: A Flourishing Business Shut Down by COVID-19

COVID-19 has forced businesses all over New York–from restaurants to retail–to shut down for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, that includes the stores where Kimberly Hall sources all the inventory for her online clothing business.

“I am an online reseller. Mostly I resell women’s and men’s, and some kids, designer clothing, accessories, and shoes. I source most of my inventory from existing retail establishments, sometimes from Goodwill or Salvation Army or even Macy’s,” she said. All of the usual places Kimberly shops for her inventory have had to close down, leaving her with no way to replenish her stock.

“I remember the day exactly, March 17th. I was shopping for inventory, and the manager of the store asked everyone to come to the front. They announced that this would be the last day open, until further notice. It’s been very difficult as far as replenishing inventory. I have really had to think outside the box,” said Kimberly.

With no inventory to sell, Kimberly receives no income, and can’t pay her expenses. In addition to her lack of stock, Kimberly’s overall sales have plummeted due to the economic recession. “People have lost their jobs, or they’re furloughed, or they’re very nervous about whether they will still have a job. So luxury clothing is not at the top of their priorities,” she said.

Kimberly tried to apply for unemployment, which has been expanded in New York to include small business owners. But she first applied three weeks ago, and is still navigating the process to receive benefits. While waiting for her unemployment, Kimberley received a $1,000 disbursement from Humanity Forward through a partnership between SaverLife and Neighborhood Trust.

“Anyone who does what I do, we pay selling fees. The more you sell, the higher the fees. So I used some of it to pay my selling fees,” said Kimberly. Kimberly also used some of the payment to pay her cell phone bill; she often uses her cell phone for business as well as keeping in touch with family and friends since she lives alone. The rest, Kimberly put into her savings account.

“I have just reserved the rest since I have yet to receive any other financial help and my business is just a trickle right now. I can’t spend it all at once, even for necessities.”

As a small business owner, Kimberly is used to riding out tight times, but the COVID crisis has been especially challenging. “I am still maintaining my business as best I can. The minute the stores open back up, I will be the first in line,” she said.

We are glad to have been able to give Kimberly some financial security while she waits to get back to work. “I am so thankful for the grant because it really was needed and came just in time,” she said.