Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and city council chose to shut the local beach economy down during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Small, mom and pop businesses, hotel concerns, restaurants and retail establishments were hit especially hard. Estimates are that up to 32% of small business owners will choose to sell or close their businesses permanently during the upcoming Fall 2020 post tourist season.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bethune’s Better Brands beer distribution continued. The company never laid off employees nor did it close.
In fact, as USA Today reported in May, beer sales skyrocketed during the early months of the pandemic. Said USA Today: Consumers are buying in bulk, with sales of cases of beer on the rise. Sales of 24-can cases of Michelob Ultra are up 59% so far this year. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/05/22/coronavirus-effect-big-beer-brands-cases-sell-during-pandemic/5241693002/
Better Brands has exclusive rights to distribute Bud, Bud Light, Michelob, Michelob Ultra among scores of other Anheuser-Busch products along the Grand Strand.
Despite this reality, Better Brands applied for and received up to $2 million in Federal Coronavirus bail out monies.
A July 10th mandate by Governor McMaster forcing all S.C. bars to close at 11 p.m. will affect future beer sales. However, the Mayor would have needed a crystal ball to see this foreshadowing when her company applied for Federal PPP assistance last Spring.
As WMBF news reported in early July: The PPP came from the $2 trillion CARES Act to help businesses who faced economic challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. The money could be used to help keep employees on the payroll and also pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria is met and the funds are used for eligible expenses.
As a result, the up to $2 million Better Brands received is “free money” and does not have to be repaid.