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Nearly 80% of Jewelers Surveyed Applied for the PPP

But less than a third were funded in the first round.

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NEARLY 80 PERCENT of retail jewelers surveyed by INSTORE on April 19 had applied for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, but only about a third had received government help at that time. Most said the process had been frustrating, although a couple said they received assistance almost immediately.

Erika Godfrey of Hawthorne Jewelry in Kearney, NE, submitted her PPP application on the first day it was made available, got a response the following week and received money just three days later.

“I know the experience wasn’t that smooth or promising for everyone and I am appreciative of the professional service my bank offered and very thankful that I have help to guarantee my employees an additional eight weeks of wages,” she says. “Now, my hope is that the loan repayment/forgiveness will be as smooth an experience because repaying eight weeks of wages that I couldn’t afford in the first place still is a stress to deal with if the forgiveness part doesn’t pan out. Money doesn’t grow on trees and this will cost everyone something.”

Tommy Thobe of the Village Gem in Perry Hall, MD, furloughed his employees while applying for the PPP, which turned out to be a frustrating and fruitless experience.

“It’s been very hard to get the money that was promised to me,” he says. “I have been working since I was 15 years old and I have never expected anything free, but I think I should get some help. I do not think that we will ever make up for our lost income. And as far as the SBA, our local banks make it hard to get a grant. I’ve been with a bank for over 30 years and have our business account through them and they would not help us out. 🙁 BYE BYE BIG BANK).”

Others took matters into their own hands: “I surrendered my IRA to continue to pay employees,” says Eileen Eichhorn, Eichhorn Jewelry, Decatur, IN.

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The other category included unemployment benefits, local chamber of commerce grants, support from the Canadian government and low-interest or no-interest credit cards.

We received 220 responses from the Brain Squad.

Other responses included:

  • “Our bank (Chase Bank) wouldn’t even talk to us. They only allowed us to put our name on a list. Fortunately, we were able to convince a small community bank that we once did a minimal amount of business with to accept our application. We were accepted by the SBA only a day or two before they ran out of money for the first round of PPP loans. Two days after we actually received the funds from the PPP loan through our community bank, Chase Bank (our bank) contacted us to tell us that the funding for these loans had run out but they ‘generously’ offered to consider accepting an application from us in case more funding was allocated.” — James Sickinger, Sickinger’s Jewelry, Lowell, IN
  • “Applied April 7 and just found out (April 19) that Chase Bank finally approved us and moved us up to the SBA. I told my husband that we are like runt puppies, too small to get to the feeding bowl, and we better figure out how we stay alive until May 26.” — Jo Goralski, the Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • “We did not receive payment through PPP in the first iteration. Our banker has assured us that we will receive it in the second wave.” — Nathan George, Joshua’s Fine Jewelry, Russellville, AR
  • “We were lucky to get the PPP on the last day (of the first round). Used a community bank. The unemployment bonus from the CARES Act makes it hard to rehire employees because they are making more on unemployment. I don’t feel good about making them come in and taking less compensation.” — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • “Chase was inaccessible until it was too late, citing technical problems and delay tactics like ‘we are working on providing the best customer service possible.’ I ‘registered’ to apply with Chase on April 3, receiving the response ‘we will contact you when ready to take your application.’ First personal contact they made with me was on April 14. They said they fixed a Chase internal problem with my account and I could submit a complete application now. They processed my application and told me it was ready to submit to SBA on April 21. The funding was closed six days prior on April 15. So much for getting funds to small business quickly. The three-day emergency funding from EIDL that I applied for on March 31 never came either and just recently they changed those rules, but the funding date also passed.” — Robert Borneman, Diamond Jewelers, Centereach, NY
  • “We are a mom and pop. My wife owns the LLC and I am an employee. I am receiving unemployment and our state (MI) opened it up so my wife can apply as a self-employed person. Also worked closely and speedily with our regional bank to secure PPP loan/grant for $11,000 to cover my pay and some healthcare costs for two months.” — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • “In Canada, there are several government help plans including a loan and wage subsidy. Luckily we increased our bank line of credit before the pandemic.” — David Lindsay, Purdy’s Jewellery & Gems, Bobcaygeon, Ontario.

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Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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