HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The novel coronavirus is creating stress for everyone. Some small business owners are faced with impossible choices to keep their businesses open, families fed and customers safe.
For nearly two months, all non-essential businesses were closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. One of those businesses was Luna Luxe Nail Loft in Carrollwood.
"If we did not open by the end of May, we would officially close our doors, and that message was heartbreaking," owner Ashley Palacios said.
Palacios, a mom of three, says it took a year to plan and renovate to get the store, located at 11738 N Dale Mabry Hwy, open. And during their first year in operation, they had to face down a pandemic.
"It kind of set us back to almost square one," Palacios said. "I do fear that there is a potential that if we were to close again that all of this hard work could potentially be for nothing. Two months was really kind of the cutoff. Like I said, we were still trying to grow a business, so we didn't have a lot of that capital sitting in a bank to keep us afloat. I don't know if we'll be that lucky next time."
The business employs seven people. Palacios said everyone is doing their part to make sure they are cleaning, sanitizing, wearing masks and keeping customers safe.
"With us being non-toxic fume-free, ultra-hygienic, we strive to keep people safe prior to the coronavirus, and we continue to try to do our best by implementing a couple of additional things safety features," Palacios said. "Like wearing the mask, adding the plexiglass barriers, making sure we are Lysoling, make sure we are wiping things regularly, spacing clients away from each other."
Gaining new customers is a challenge. But, Palacios said her regulars are still coming in for service.
"I love to support local businesses, small businesses, women-owned businesses," Alessandra Boissiere said. "It's the risk that you are taking anywhere that you go if you go to the grocery store shopping for anything it's a risk if you have to leave the house but coming here I know that I'm always going to be safe they've always been clean freaks before the pandemic hit."
With COVID-19 surging in Florida, Palacios hopes everyone will do their part to stop the spread. No matter what, she is trying to be optimistic.
"I'm a pretty positive person I like to think I don't think it would keep me down too long I would try to figure something out and start again," Palacios said.