‘If I don’t sell clothes, I don’t eat:’ Pine Hills business owner glad to get back to work

Retail shops slowly begin to reopen after coronavirus closures

An open sign in front of a businesses. (Pixlr)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As part of phase one in Florida, Monday was reopening day for restaurants and retail stores, many that have been closed for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They're now allowed to reopen, but with certain restrictions like limiting capacity inside to only 25% and maintaining a safe distance.

James Awolaru owns Boughi Urban and Casual Fashion in Pine Hills and said things have been tough.

“We want to be safe but at the same time, I don’t want to have to shut down,” Awolaru said. “If I don’t sell clothes, I don’t eat.”

He’s finally back to work after weeks of his store being closed. Though he admits being a father of two children and trying to support his family means he’s been struggling recently.

“I’m basically broke, so that’s why I’m so exited. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was excited to open the business to feed my kids,” Awolaru said.

Awolaru said limiting capacity at his store means way fewer customers at a time where he's already hurting.

“In the store, we’re only allowing two people in at a time, and we encourage every customer to have on a mask," Awolaru said.

He’s selling masks too and taking extra precautions to make sure he and his customers are safe, including using hand sanitizer and wearing gloves.

His store is known for urban clothing and nice accessories. Though he’s happy to finally reopen, he’s hoping doing so can help him and other small businesses safely bounce back.

“I understand people are scared and nervous, but a little bit at a time and we can ease back into this thing,” Awolaru said.

Some retail stores haven’t yet reopened perhaps by choice or due to corporate-wide like Ross, Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory.

Many malls here across Central Florida have also not yet reopened.


About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.