"Many of them have complained to me that the standards for borrowing have become a lot more strict since the recession," said Moutray, formerly chief economist of the Small Business Administration. "It's much tougher to get a loan today than it was in the past."

Banking industry veteran Bob Seiwert agreed that lending standards have made it more difficult to get a loan, but he said banks are eager to lend to viable firms, and are even sacrificing on terms because demand is weak.

"Right now banks are awash in funds and they don't know what to do with them. Banks are scrambling, competing for those few small business loans that are out there," said Seiwert, a senior vice president at the American Banking Association. "Most small businesses today are on the sidelines."

Meck acknowledged his company's problems went deeper than its inability to get a loan. And once word got out, customers began to flee.

Fessler continues to fill existing orders, but the signs of a company on the brink are unmistakable. Most of the sewing machines sit idle, and a section of the factory is filling up with equipment destined for liquidation.

Meck tries to focus on the good times.

"I don't want people to be sorry. I want people to be proud we lasted this long. I want people to be proud we tried," he said. "We did good work. There is nothing to be upset about. In today's economy and today's world, it didn't work."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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