Small businesses confront the first rent check day as the coronavirus ramps up in Alabama

There was a mixture of how comfortable businesses felt about the April rent check, but some said they're already look ahead to, and dreading, May.

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 11:06 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 11:32 PM

The first of the month can be a stressful time for small businesses. But as the coronavirus continues to spread across the State of Alabama, April 1 is the first big test for many shops and landlords.

At Sweat Local in south Huntsville, owner Jeidi Pippins spent the past couple of weeks ramping up her capability to live stream her trainers' classes for her members. As recently as Tuesday, she bought a USB mic to improve the quality of the video streams.

A trainer at Sweat Local in Huntsville works with members through a live stream. Online classes are how this and many other fitness clubs continue to pay the bills amid the coronavirus pandemic. A trainer at Sweat Local in Huntsville works with members through a live stream. Online classes are how this and many other fitness clubs continue to pay the bills amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"[My members are] afraid to lose that anchor in their routines and in their lives and so we wanted to answer that quickly for them," said Pippin.

She said she considers herself lucky because her landlord decided to not collect rent payments from the tenants this month because of the uncertainty that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing.

"Which is great, especially because my main scare is not necessarily these two weeks, this month, it's really what's going to happen in the next six months," said Pippin.

Pippin decided to put the money she would've spent on rent away in a savings fund, in case things take a turn for the worse with her business. She said many of her members have stayed on so far and she's grateful for that.

But with gym memberships being a luxury for some people, they're choosing to avoid that financial add on while the COVID-19 continues to have an unknowingly long impact. 

Tina Ayers, owner of the Fit Body Boot Camp in Madison, said that has been one of her biggest challenges.

"We're in this whole new place and time. It's April 1st, rent's due and we're losing members like crazy because they want that personal face to face interaction," said Ayers.

She resisted the idea of doing online courses because she and her members enjoyed the in-person experience so much. But with the newest health order, she had to make a change to keep her year-old business afloat. 

Her challenge now is what will happen with her rent payments. It's a question she hopes to have answered by her landlord this week.

"We're going to discuss all the issues and concerns that we have and where we're at currently and ask for some potential rent abatement, which will just be tacked onto the end of our lease agreement," said Ayers.

Commercial realtors said for them and other landlords, they're taking the issue of rent payments on a day-by-day basis.

"You know, good tenants are hard to come by and if you have a good tenant, in our opinion, it's much smarter to work with them and keep them because if you have to re-tenant the space, you have to pay more commissions. You pay tenant improvement allowances to retrofit space for new businesses and/or tenants," said Bill Chapman, owner of Chapman Commercial.

"And once that starts, your overhead goes up and you have loss of rents, plus that cost of re-tenanting. So, in our opinion, it's much easier to try and work with your tenants in the short-term and get a good plan."

Even businesses that some people may expect are doing quite well amid the outbreak said they feel on shaky ground. Jeremy Sanders, the owner of All Clean in Huntsville, said the house cleaning business is a mixed bag right now. 

He said that while exterior cleanings are doing fine, interior jobs are down, as is his overall business.

"I told my landlord today, 'Hey, I can pay you for this month. Unless I get some assistance or some help, not sure I can pay you next month'" said Sanders.

Businesses said they hope the quarantine measures put in place help soon and that the restrictions put on them won't last for months on end.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 21679

Reported Deaths: 356
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson489460
Shelby4718107
Trousdale13934
Rutherford111622
Sumner85245
Hamilton71915
Bledsoe6081
Williamson53310
Putnam4615
Robertson4412
Tipton4303
Lake4130
Wilson3878
Out of TN3794
Knox3575
Bedford2744
Montgomery2613
Rhea1980
Hardeman1940
Madison1752
Loudon1370
McMinn13614
Macon1243
Cheatham1180
Cumberland1111
Dickson1100
Fayette1102
Bradley1081
Blount893
Maury810
Sevier762
Washington750
Coffee680
Unassigned670
Wayne630
Gibson611
Monroe612
Sullivan602
Hickman570
Lauderdale561
Dyer500
Franklin491
Greene482
Anderson391
Marion381
DeKalb370
Grundy321
Hawkins312
Haywood302
Smith301
Hamblen302
Henry300
Marshall301
White300
Obion281
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Meigs260
Overton260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Lawrence240
Warren220
Cocke200
Carter191
Jackson170
Morgan170
Cannon170
Campbell171
Roane160
Crockett162
Perry160
Johnson160
Polk150
Sequatchie150
Henderson140
Humphreys131
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
McNairy120
Scott110
Stewart110
Hardin112
Claiborne90
Houston80
Benton71
Grainger60
Clay60
Decatur50
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Moore30
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

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