Small businesses looking forward to re-opening

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)— Many small business owners are looking forward to re opening their stores after nearly two months of struggling to stay afloat.

Several small business owners say they’re in a tough place. They need to reopen, because financially they’re really feeling the stress, but they also don’t want to reopen too soon and start the spread of coronavirus over again.

Blakely Cochran opened her women’s clothing store “Blakely’s” in February.

The boutique was fully stocked and ready for shoppers, when a month later, she had to close her storefront.

“It has definitely had a big effect on all of my sales and it’s just been a drastic change since we’ve had to close.”

It’s a similar situation for Matt Mathews.

The local boudoir photographer decided to open an accompanying lingerie shop in downtown Birmingham. His official opening date was postponed because of coronavirus.

“We’ve not been able to open, and we just spent a lot of money on renovating this old bar and turning it into this beautiful boutique for Birmingham.”

Cochran says she faced additional struggles when seasonal shopping came to a halt.

Spring Breaks were cancelled. Churches were closed on Easter. Entertainment venues were closed and spring events were canceled due to COVID-19.

“Since all of that was canceled, it was just really hard to try to sell anything.”

Both Mathews and Cochran adapted by offering online shopping.

Mathews already had a system in place, but Cochran says she was hoping to get her storefront going before giving the online shopping option.

Both small business owners say online shopping hasn’t brought in enough revenue to pay employees and their storefront’s rent.

“Thankfully, I have always been good with money and I save, and things like that, so that’s the only way that we’ve continued to be able to pay the rent and pay the bills, but that savings has drained,” Mathews says.

Cochran adds, “It has been really hard with the closure just because I do rely on walkins and people shopping in store.”

With the state announcing retail stores will be able to re open Thursday, both Mathews and Cochran say they’ll be opening their doors.

“We are planning to open as soon as the state reopens,” Mathews says, “Honestly, the way I see it, I’m a small business. We have to work to pay our bills, to support ourselves, our lives, and we’re going to take all precaution.”

The small business owners say they’ll be taking measures to keep their stores, employees, and customers safe from COVID-19.

“Whatever guidelines we have follow or abide by, and we have plans in place to be setup for that,” says Cochran.

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