NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s been almost eight weeks since Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to close, and there’s a dire prediction that many will never reopen.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello checked in with one Brooklyn businesswoman whose plea for help has gone viral on social media.
It’s a tale of two business models. Big box stores are open and drawing crowds, while small family-owned businesses have been deemed non-essential and mandated to stay closed.
“I cannot be trusted to open my door to one client at a time? Why are our politicians favoring the chain stores?” jewelry store owner Simcha Minkowitz says in a video that’s been viewed more than 270,000 times on social media by others since originally being posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Minkowitz and her husband dutifully closed their Borough Park store right before the busy Passover season.
“It was devastating, and we did it with love. We closed our doors with love because we knew we had to,” Minkowitz said.
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As the lockdown has dragged on, Minkowitz has come to believe she can safely reopen, sanitizing every surface and allowing only one or two customers inside at a time.
“I think I’d be able to sanitize my space better than a large Target, let’s say, or a large Costco,” she said.
With six kids, she has every incentive to be careful, and she believes it’s time to let people assess their own tolerance for risk and shop accordingly.
“I know that I can go out of my house and I can make that choice. And if someone is afraid, that’s their choice also, and they can stay home. Honestly, I tell my parents and in-laws to stay home because they’re above a certain age and I want them to be safe,” Minkowitz said.
She fears for what the economic future holds.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce estimates 20,000 small businesses may not survive the pandemic and may never reopen their doors.
“There’s gonna be trauma that people are gonna carry for many years with this,” Minkowitz said.
A Paycheck Protection Program loan helped with two months’ rent, but the day is rapidly approaching when they’ll have to decide how much longer they can hold on.