RLG regulatory attorney Tom Galvin talks stopgaps as Scottsdale businesses struggle to survive

By Wayne Schutsky | Scottsdale Progress

On normal days, Melissa Fink finds herself preoccupied with glitter and glam as dozens of children celebrate birthdays, have tea parties and attend camps at her Scottsdale business that is dedicated to all things girly.

But things have changed as the coronavirus has impacted businesses across all sectors, causing layoffs, revenue drops and Scottsdale hotel occupancy to dip by nearly 90 percent.

Now Fink – owner of the Girly Girlz event venue and boutique near Scottsdale Quarter – is trying to figure out how to keep the business afloat under social distancing limits.

“We have birthday parties that are already scheduled way out, so we had to cancel. We’re kind of just taking a week by week,” said Fink, who also had to cancel a spring break camp.

She has cut hours for her 12-person staff, which includes local teens who work part-time and a full-time manager.

In an attempt to keep the 17-year-old business open, Fink is offering $10 craft bags through online ordering for curbside pickup.

Girly Girlz has five different themed bags with a craft, a dessert to decorate and a coloring page.

The bags have allowed her to continue providing some work to her full-time manager, but she is not sure how long that will last.

“As a small business, I can afford a month of closure if I know it’s going to be a month,” Fink said. “I can plan and I can figure out how to make money in another way.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest economic injury disaster loans to Arizona small businesses after Governor Doug Ducey requested the aid earlier this month. Business owners can fill out applications online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

The loans are typically given out in the wake of natural disasters. Congress approved adding the coronavirus pandemic to the list as part of an $8.3-billion package earlier this month.

The program, which is available for both businesses and non-profits, offers loans of up to $2 million and carries low interest rates and a payback period of up to 30 years that is determined by an applicant’s credit history, said Tom Galvin with Scottsdale-based Rose Law Group.

The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for non-profits.

The loans are intended to be a stopgap to keep businesses afloat. For that reason, Galvin said businesses have to prove their economic hardship as part of the application process. 

Galvin said it is still unclear when the program will begin disbursing funds.“Anecdotally, what we’re hearing is the SBA understands that this is just a major crisis and that Congress approved it for coronavirus for a reason,” Galvin said. “So, the SBA really wants to get these loans out, like they really want to help small businesses.”

Galvin said that desire to move quickly could be undermined by the sheer volume of applications.

Galvin said Arizona was one of the first 10 states to apply for the program and that the SBA has offered 24/7 helpline support to navigate the sometimes-Byzantine application process.

Fink said she applied for a disaster loan and is still waiting to hear back.