SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The pandemic has forced weddings, birthdays and graduations to be cancelled - hitting the entertainment and party rental industry hard.
It’s big business in the Hispanic and Latino communities as family gatherings are deeply rooted in the culture.
“Summer is the best time for us, and it looks like it's not summer,” says Noelia Mendez, Noelia’s Party Boutique Owner.
She reopened in May after closing for a month-and-a- half, but kept the market next door open. Mendez said she's only been able to rent two bouncy houses and a few tables and chairs.
She hopes the coronavirus piñata will knock out the virus.
“Our business dropped maybe 50%, so yeah it's very sad,” said Mendez.
The indoor entertainment industry has also taken a huge hit. In Eastlake, Play City, an indoor playground, closed in March and has not reopened.
“We went through what could we do, and it didn’t make sense. You are going to let one child go through an inflatable and have them come out and sanitize?” said Alita Fernandez, Play City Marketing Manager.
She has tried to stay connected with customers, doing Easter Bunny and pajama parry drive-bys. They had to cancel all party reservations for the year.
“Sixty to 65% of our business come from our party bookings,” said Fernandez.
Party rental and entertainment go hand-and-hand with family gatherings which are big in the Latino and Hispanic communities.
“Latinos we are very family oriented, we also like to party with our family,” said Iris Garcia, CEO Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
While entertainment may not be considered essential these are the livelihoods, Garcia says it is deeply rooted in their culture.
“When our businesses close it's not just our livelihood that is closing, it's also our culture that is slowly going to be diminishing and that's is essential to saving our small businesses,” said Garcia.
Play City said it has tried to apply for loans.
“Listen to us, how can we do this, how can we get more help,” said Fernandez.
This week the San Diego County Board of Supervisors announced $17 million in small business stimulus grants.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce stated the language barrier is the largest hurdle to relay information to businesses. Mendez said she applied for assistance through the City Heights Business Association but is overwhelmed and confused with questions on the application.
“I'm afraid to apply because I don't really understand the rules,” said Mendez.
Noelia said she is pushing through and plans to keep the block at University and 37th colorful with piñatas and flowers and won't let the virus suck out her business of 15 years.
“I'm here everyday,” said Mendez. "We have to survive.”
To learn more about the small business stimulus grants click here.