Small Businesses: Are They Thriving or Just Surviving?


Anila Ray

Zalles Racquet Sports Store

Anila Ray, Journalist/ Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all. Students can’t go to school. Health protocols in many places are more strict. We have limited contact with people around us. But this pandemic has made a great impact on many small businesses, for better or worse.


“When [the] pandemic started, I was very stressed,” said Elizabeth Smolgovsky, who runs the B♯ Piano Studio in Foster City. She explained that, after searching for hours online, she decided to use Zoom meetings to teach her classes. “I had to find a new way to teach.”


Ms. Smolgovsky explained that she had to buy new equipment for her classes, such as a microphone and three cameras. Even with all her new equipment, though, the online classes were tricky. “The sound was far from perfect,” she said, describing her Zoom classes. “Because we cannot communicate as well [as in person], it affects the quality of the teaching.”


She expressed her opinion on the pandemic, saying, “I would love to go back to normal.” 


Meanwhile, Vince Warren, an employee at the Zalles Racquet Sports store in Foster City, shows that the pandemic can be beneficial to some businesses. When asked how the pandemic affected the store and if it had affected them in a positive or negative way, he replied, “Actually, on our business, probably a positive effect, in terms of business, because tennis is still one of the few sports that you can play during the pandemic, and… there’s enough social distancing between the players… We have a lot more players coming in, too, because they need that extra hour away from home.”


Although many companies and businesses have had to adapt to meet the safety protocols, including Zalles, things aren’t too bad, according to Mr. Warren. “We’ve had to limit the amount of customers that can be in the shop. So usually, we limit it to five at a time; Otherwise, they have to wait outside, but it’s not been too bad because we never had… too many customers in at one time,” he said. “…we just have to make sure that the grips [of the racquets are clean] because that’s what everyone’s touching all the time.”


Because of all the safety precautions, Zalles has actually benefited from the pandemic. “We’ve gotten busier, if anything,” Mr. Warren emphasized. 


COVID-19 has affected the way we live life, especially for small businesses. Our local businesses were hit hard by change. They’ve had to adapt and push through many challenges, from social distancing protocols to the shifting of interests. Some businesses, like the B♯ Piano Studio, have had difficulties adjusting to the pandemic’s requirements. Yet some businesses, like the  Zalles Racquet Sports store, have been making the most of this tricky situation. Just like many people of this country, each business has adapted to keep themselves and those around them safe and healthy.





Personal Interviews