San Marco Merchants Association helping small business find relief

“The No. 1 thing a lot of these businesses need right now is money to keep things going,” says Joe Carlucci, association president and co-owner of Brightway, The Carlucci Agency.

  • By
  • | 5:20 a.m. April 21, 2020
  • News
  • COVID-19 - Your Stories
  • Share

While Brightway, The Carlucci Agency hasn’t seen a hit from the coronavirus, co-owner Joe Carlucci says he’s worried about what will happen if closures continue long-term.

“We’re very closely tied to the housing market,” Carlucci said. “From what we’ve seen so far, people are still closing on homes but if this continues on, we don’t know how the housing market is going to play out. I don’t know if they’re going to continue to buy homes at the pace they normally do.”

Carlucci owns the agency at 3535 Hendricks Ave. in San Marco with Matthew Carlucci Jr., his brother. It provides home, flood, auto and business insurance. 

Some clients have called to cancel their policies or request delays on payments. The agency can’t grant those requests itself, so it is submitting them to the insurance companies.

Carlucci also is president of the San Marco Merchants Association.

Many of those 102 member businesses haven’t been as lucky. Carlucci said restaurants and retailers have been hit the hardest since customers aren’t eating out and most retailers are deemed nonessential and have closed.

The association can’t provide financial relief to its members. During Hurricane Irma when San Marco businesses saw flooding and other storm damage, the group members rallied to raise money to help each other recover.

“We raised that money from our members and from other people in the community,” Carlucci said. “Right now it’s hard to ask people for money.” 

Instead, the association organized a Zoom meeting with CPA Josh Shilts to guide members through applying for available programs and loans.

He said about 40 people joined the call, including some from the Avondale Merchants Association and Springfield Preservation and Revitalization. 

“The No. 1 thing a lot of these businesses need right now is money to keep things going,” Carlucci said. “Then they can sort it out from there. They just want to understand how these relief programs are working because there seems like there are so many out there.”

Aside from that, the association is promoting its members’ efforts to bring in customers.

“We’re just going to keep vocalizing ways for them to tap into that money,” he said. “And on the flip side, be a bigger voice for some of the smaller businesses to the consumer base as well.”