By J. AIELLO | Joey’s Shoe Shine
Fourteen years ago, along with my wife Rhonda, I embarked on an amazing journey: we started our own business. We opened our first shoeshine stand on the upper level of San Diego’s Westfield Horton Plaza Mall.
Several years later, we moved our stand to the ground level. Over the years with the help and support of many people in San Diego, we were able to grow, opening additional stands in the Bayfront Hilton, Marriott Marquis, San Diego, Manchester Grand Hyatt and Emerald Plaza along with expanding into the trade show industry.
When Westfield sold Horton Plaza Mall last year, we relocated to the Westin Gaslamp Quarter which is our current location. Over the years, we worked hard to establish our business and developed a reputation for quality-service and workmanship. Just about everyone — politicians, corporate executives, judges, lawyers, movie stars and tourists — have sat in my chair. It has been the greatest experience of our lives to serve San Diego’s Downtown community.
At the beginning of March, we learned along with the rest of the country that Covid-19 was going to be a serious national health issue. By the middle of the month it was officially a pandemic. The State of California along with the City of San Diego declared a State of Emergency. Social distancing and the closure of all non-essential businesses was ordered.
For a small business such as ours that is a devastating event. We have never made a lot of money, but we have been able to support ourselves in a comfortable lifestyle and save a little for slow periods. However, to suddenly lose our sole income is frightening. Our bills still must be paid we still have to eat and there is no longer any income to pay for that.
We have been able to cover our expenses for April. Beyond the month of April, we are going to be in trouble.
On March 30th, we applied for the City of San Diego Small Business Relief Fund. On the same day we also applied for Economic Small Business Disaster Assistance with the SBA. Most recently we attempted to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program with Citibank where our business checking account is. Nobody has contacted us regarding those actions and there is no one we can contact.
I am now in my 60’s and starting over is not an option. We will be fine for April. Beyond that, everything we have worked for will be gone.
— J. Aiello is the owner of Joey’s Shoe Shine.