Small Business Weathers the Recession

Small Business Weathers the Recession

Owners of a butcher shop, a movie tourism service, and a bicycle manufacturer share the hard realities of staying afloat during the down economy.

In October, The New York Times began tracking how six small businesses were handling the recession. The holiday season seems to have provided little relief: Layoffs, shorter hours and struggles to pay bills were common refrains in recent video interviews with struggling businesspeople.

In this second installment, we hear from the owners of a New York butcher shop, bicycle manufacturer and movie tourism service, as they share the hard realities of keeping business alive during the down economy.

Michael Menna, 46, is the owner of Menna’s Quality Meats and Salumeria, his family’s 50-year-old meat market in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. With business down, he fell behind in his electric payments, and Con Ed demanded about $6,500 as a security deposit. He has cut hours for his four workers, asked his wife to help and started working part time as a D.J. to help pay bills.

Georgette Blau, 34, is president of On Location Tours in Midtown Manhattan, which gives bus tours of New York locations from popular movies and television shows, including “Ugly Betty” and “Sex and the City.” Though she says her holiday numbers have been steady, she thinks business will be off more next year than she predicted two months ago. She has eliminated part-time positions and delayed seeking a line of credit because the market is tight.

Wayne Sosin is the president of Worksman Cycles in Ozone Park, Queens, a 110-year-old shop that produces heavy-duty bicycles and tricycles used in warehouses and factories. In October, a manager at the company was worried about rising costs, but confident that sales would remain strong. But orders from automakers and their suppliers have “basically dried up to nothing.”

But there was also some hope from all three that the new year, and perhaps the new president, would bring relief. The Times will continue to follow the six businesses in 2009.

Length: 6:41

Video/Reporting: Ken Belson, Brent McDonald, Patrick McGeehan, Erik Olsen