The owners of a trio of car washes in San Luis Obispo are returning the federal small business loan they received because their business is actually thriving despite the coronavirus restrictions, which have resulted in serious financial damages for many other small businesses.
It was apparent Monday that Quiky Car Wash on Calle Joaquin was doing well, as dozens of cars cycled through for a wash over the course of about an hour.
"It's a calculated safe thing to do and I was really thrilled when they had the separate, they closed off every other vacuum station," Richard Killeen, a San Luis Obispo resident who stopped by to wash his Volvo, said.
Soap and water isn't just for dirty hands these days. Even with nowhere to show off the sparkle of a fresh wash, customers remain constant at Quiky Car Wash.
"We had a downtime of probably two to three weeks, but we're now back up to normal business, which is fantastic," Hamish Marshall, the co-owner of Quiky Car Wash, said.
The business is thriving now, but Marshall said the loss of about $100,000 in profits from late March through early April motivated him to apply for a small business loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
"We wanted to make sure we at least gave ourselves the opportunity to get the money and if we needed it we'd keep it," Marshall said.
But thanks to local government approval and community support, Quiky Car Wash does not need the funds to stay afloat.
As many small businesses search help in a now depleted fund, news of payouts to big companies like the LA Lakers and Shake Shack have generate controversy.
"Those people that received the PPP money need to make a social moral decision on whether they need the money or not and if they don't they shouldn't take it," Marshall said..
Shake Shack and the Lakers did return the loans but in some cases, there are reports of other mid-sized companies holding on to assistance they don't truly need, hoping to receive federal forgiveness and mothball the money.
"This country is built on small businesses, that's what it is," Marshall said. "I think going into this was fairly easy to a degree. Coming out is going to be very very difficult."
Meanwhile, the loans Marshall received for his two other businesses, SLO Brewing Company and Hotel Cerro, are desperately needed. But until the economy reopens, he has no way to spend the money.