Events canceled because of COVID hurt Beverly businesses

For the past three years Curtis Barfield operated Benny’s Beauty Supply in Beverly, but the store is set to close this weekend, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am closing the business for a couple of reasons and the pandemic is one of them. My store was damaged from the looting that took place last year,” said Barfield, co-owner of the store. “The store was also closed for three months (last year) since it was not deemed an essential business.” The shutdowns and the fear of another lockdown is the main reason he is closing.

The small, Black-owned store at 11109 S. Western Ave. has two employees. Before the COVID shut-down order there were seven, Barfield said. His business got a $10,500 federal loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help with payroll. Barfield said he pays $2,250 per month in rent for the store and is two months behind. 

“I worked out an arrangement with my leasing agent to surrender the space and by doing so my back rent will be forgiven,” Barfield said. “But even if the rent was current, I would still be shutting down the business.”

According to Barfield, the majority of beauty supply stores in Chicago are Korean- or Chinese-owned, with very few are Black-owned.

“There are only five or six Black-owned beauty supply stores that I know exist in Chicago including mine,” he said. “You can find plenty of beauty supply stores in a Black neighborhood, but most are not Black-owned.”

Another factor hurting Beverly businesses this year is the cancellation, for the second straight year, of the popular South Side Irish Parade, which typically attracts 100,000 people to the area, according to Mary Jo Viero, executive director of the nonprofit Beverly Area Planning Association.

She said the event served as a magnet for businesses, such as bars and restaurants, that looked for a one-day windfall from huge foot traffic generated by the parade.

“There are over 500 businesses in Beverly and the pandemic killed the parade again and that is going to hurt some businesses like those located along the parade route,” said Viero. “Beverly businesses are going to take an economic hit by losing the parade this year.”

Overall, Viero said the community has supported local businesses to help keep them open.

“Beverly is a family-oriented community and the residents here believe in patronizing their local businesses,” she said. BAPA started its “Think Before You Click” campaign last year “to bring awareness to consumers and to remind them to first consider a local business before searching online,” she said. 

Beverly has 20,437 residents, according to census data, with 57 percent of them white, 35 percent Black, 5 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Asian. The median household income is $98,416, compared with $55,198 citywide.