Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop Receives Loan, Hopes To Keep Employees On Payroll

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Gray Carpenter and his wife own the Mount Lemmon General Store and Gift Shop.

“Fudge is our number one seller. Everyone comes here for the fudge, we’re famous for that, ”Carpenter.

One of the few stores on the mountain, the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop offers a bit of everything.

“We’re sort of the only store on Mount Lemmon and have all kinds of things people look for when they come to the mountain, usually what they have forgotten,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said this is an essential business because it also operates as a grocery store.

“We do not allow access to the store inside. We have implemented a walk-in service for our exterior windows. It actually works really well, ”Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he installed plexiglass to help separate customers from employees.

Despite being open for business, Carpenter said it saw a 74% drop in sales.

“It’s very scary. So much uncertainty and I have no idea how long this will last. It’s probably the worst, the uncertainty over time, ”Carpenter said.

Carpenter said they were unable to pay their employees’ salaries, so they had to drastically cut their hours.

“Since March 16, we have only been operating three days a week. During the week, the business fell so much that it didn’t make sense to open the doors, ”Carpenter said.

Carpenter said they didn’t want to lay off their six employees, so they considered applying for a loan made available through the CARES Act.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a small business administration loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.

Carpenter said he and his wife applied for the loan on April 3 and it took 10 days to get the financing.

“We have it in our bank account. It happened yesterday, ”Carpenter said.

The SBA released its report on the Paycheck Protection Program on Wednesday.

It says as of April 13, nationwide, it had approved more than one million loans for a total gross value of $ 247.5 billion.

In Arizona, it approved 10,989 loans with a total value of approximately $ 3.5 billion.

The SBA said the overall average loan amount was $ 239,152.

“We wanted to tell everyone right away, so they’re very happy to hear that. Everyone knows they’ve had their job for a while, so that’s reassuring everyone, ”Carpenter said.

The Small Business Administration has said a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program will be fully forfeited if the funds are used for salary costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. At least 75% of the amount remitted must be used for payroll.

” It’s huge. The loan amount we got would be a significant additional expense per month once this is completed. So if it’s forgiven, that’s a fantastic thing, ”Carpenter said.

For now, Carpenter has said the loan could allow them to reopen seven days a week, in hopes that business will pick up.

“We definitely see a greater percentage of people going up the mountain to stay here for a few days, to rent a cabin. There are a large number of people who go out to go into nature and hike and have spent time in the fresh clean air, and this is a definite help for our business, but compared to a period normal, say last year, is much less. The numbers just aren’t there, ”Carpenter said.

Click here for a list of SBA Paycheck Protection Program lenders located in Arizona.

Click here to learn learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program.

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