Making the Most of PPP and ERC

Huff shares aggressive effort to access federal funds to get through the pandemic
Raymond Huff, HJB Convenience
Photograph courtesy HJB Convenience

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Fresh off a stint as the cover model for the March issue of CSP magazine, retailer Raymond Huff is teaming up with a new StrasGlobal service to share his story of persistence in the pandemic and the course of action he took to stay in business through federal Payroll Protection Programs (PPP) and the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).

“My convenience stores in downtown Denver saw a sales drop 80% or more since March 2020,” said Huff, who as president of HJB Convenience operates convenience stores in downtown Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Detroit. “But with PPP and ERC funding, I have been able to pay my employees and keep 16 locations open. My message to all small operators like me is that it’s not too late. You have to be aggressive reaching out to make sure your company gets the resources available.”

Speaking with Jessica Williams, director of StrasGlobal’s Resources for Retailers program, Huff said he left no stone unturned to keep his stores open. “I reached out to my state congressmen, senators and my mayor,” he said. “I reached out to my local bank. I worked with my accountant and reached out to my payroll company to make sure I got loan forgiveness.”

Williams says Huff’s approach serves as a template for other independent retailers who might still need assistance.

Their conversation (see video below) provides actionable highlights, she said, including:

  • Be Curious: Speak to fellow business owners in your community to learn from one another and get results.
  • Be Proactive: Local bank relationships can work in your favor for faster access to funding.
  • Be Aggressive: Ask what you really need to stay in business.
  • Be Persistent: Work with your accountant and payroll company to insure loan forgiveness.
  • Stay Open: With ERC funds you can put money back into your account that you’ve already paid your employee.

“We can learn a lot from Ray,” said StrasGlobal President Eva Strasburger. “If you’re an independent business owner and your sales have been affected by COVID-19, there’s still money out there to keep your business open.”

HJB Convenience, Lakewood, Colo., does business as Russell’s Convenience and Russell’s Xpress. Huff was featured in CSP’s recent deep dive into how c-store retailers worked through the pandemic titled “COVID-19: One Year Later.”

Austin, Texas-based StrasGlobal provides contract services and site operations to retailers across the United States. Its Resources for Retailers (RfR) is a knowledge center and community for retailers who want access to resources usually available only to the large operators, according to the company.

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