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Veteran Small Business Owners More Resilient During Pandemic

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 1/18/2021 Bridget Naso
text © Provided by NBC San Diego

Rockin' Jump Trampoline Park is like many small businesses, struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

But it's owners are military veterans, and according to one survey, that may be what sets their business apart when it comes to bouncing back from the pandemic.

“When it’s full with kids, the screaming, and the laughter, it’s like being on a playground at school time,” co-owner Craig Smith said about what it used to feel like inside the large warehouse turned trampoline park before the pandemic.

The business that caters to children's parties has opened and closed a couple of times since the pandemic began. It then completely closed several months ago after Smith says they inadvertently violated the county's health order.

Now, there are no customers and no revenue for the Mira Mesa business.

"The bills still continued to show up, those don’t disappear, the rent doesn’t disappear,” said Smith.

What frustrates Smith the most is that other businesses, especially larger ones, like big box stores can remain open. “If you really want to lock things down and try to get this COVID virus gone, make it equitable across the board close everybody down.”

Smith and his partner have gotten loans through the “CARES Act,” but those loans are running out.

They’re hoping the landlord will give him time to catch up on payments when the pandemic is over.

But through all of it Smith, an Airforce veteran, says he and his partner Casey, a Marine combat veteran, have not given up and their military service is definitely playing a part.

“We don’t get rattled very easily, and we expect the unexpected, and we’re kind of trying to just stay focused," he said.

These veterans bought and turned this business around before the pandemic hit and they say despite the huge financial hit they are taking now from COVID-19, they, like many veteran business owners, are not giving up.

According to census data, there are some 250,000 veteran owned businesses in California.

While 65% of the veterans say the pandemic continues to negatively affect their businesses, a survey by Alignable Pulse shows veteran-owned businesses are making strides despite their challenges.

More are able to make rent, and have reserves, the survey states.

“I have confidence that we’re going to survive it,” said Smith

And giving them another shot is the vaccine rollout.

“That actually allows me to see a light at the end of the tunnel and no it’s not a train.”

The veterans also have a GoFundMe Page and says they are grateful for the donations that come in from across the U.S.

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