CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – It’s just before closing time at The Million Year Picnic. Inside, owner Anthony Davis is still busy organizing.
“It’s a great book. He’s a local designer,” Davis said, releasing Raul’s latest children’s book The Third, “! Vamos! Let’s go to the market.
The Harvard Square store has not allowed customers entry since March. Davis does everything to make his business work.
“We made the decision fairly quickly to do free home deliveries, mail order orders, secure pickups. But [we’re] don’t allow people to browse just because of the size of the store, ”Davis said.
The store’s collection of children’s books makes good sales. But he says they’re mostly kept afloat by their regular clientele.
“It’s not at all the business we were doing a year or two ago. In the first three months after the COVID hit, we were down about 70-75%. And we’re still down 50 percent, ”Davis said. “The only reason we’re here is because of the patience of the trust that owns the building. And they were very, very patient. For us, obtaining grants and PPP loans is extremely important. ”
The Million Year Picnic opened in 1973. It is the oldest existing comic book store in New England – the four oldest in the country. Davis currently employs two people. Before the pandemic, that number was four. A new opportunity to apply for a PPP loan gives the company hope.
“It would definitely meet our payroll needs over the next three to four months. And, hopefully, we will cover some of our back rent, ”Davis said. “Rent right now is really the most important consideration for businesses like ours. At least the PPP loans as they were originally set up are really geared towards companies where payroll is the biggest part of what they do. For us, the rent represents a more important part than the payroll.
On Monday, President Joe Biden announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (P3).
From Wednesday and for the next two weeks, only companies with fewer than 20 employees will be allowed to apply for a PPP loan. Federal aid is aimed at targeting small businesses and minority-owned businesses. The changes will also remove restrictions that cut P3 assistance to small business owners who have previously been convicted of a non-fraud felony or those who are behind on their student loans. And improve access for non-citizen owners.
“We will make sure every dollar is well spent. These changes will provide much needed and long overdue help to small businesses that really need help staying open, keeping jobs and making ends meet, ”said President Biden.
Davis says he will have his application ready on Tuesday and hopes approval would save him time, give him and his staff a chance to get vaccinated and welcome the public back to the store. It also gives them a chance to stay open.
“I can’t wait for people to be able to come back to the store,” Davis said. “The ability to bring people back through the doors and enjoy our goods, that would give me all the happiness in the world. “