Small businesses in Texas face re-closure as New York shops navigate reopening

New York has been conservative about reopening while Texas had one of the shortest shutdowns in the nation. Small business owners in both states are worried about keeping their businesses afloat.
9:54 | 07/09/20

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Transcript for Small businesses in Texas face re-closure as New York shops navigate reopening
Reporter: It's reopening day in Brooklyn for Sarah June hair salon. Hi, how's it going? I'm going to take your temperature. Reporter: For 108 days. 98.1. Reporter: Sara Gilmore's popular salon was shut down due to covid-19. My usually bustling salon on a Saturday is pretty empty. Reporter: Now Sarah is back in, trying to navigate a business in the new pandemic world. My business is small. And we can only fit two client downstairs and two or three clients upstairs, and we used to be able to fit ten at a time. Reporter: Halfway across the country, in temple, Texas, stores here at pecan plaza have been open for months. But now, with coronavirus cases soaring in Texas, business owners are worried. How closely are you watching these numbers? Very closely. Yeah, we're watching that every day. As you see, it's empty. Used to be full, lunchtime, dinner, but now I'm afraid it's going to get worse. Reporter: Small business, the backbone of the American economy, in two states. New York and Texas, offering two vastly different views of the difficulties entrepreneurs across the country are facing. New York City, initially the epicenter of the pandemic here, enforcing full shutdowns. Slowly, painstakingly opening its doors for business. And in the heart of Texas, one of the last states to close down, and among the first to reopen, not grappling with surging covid cases and the prospects of a new wave of closures. Three months ago, at the peak of the virus's devastating impact on New York state, we visited park slope, Brooklyn, it hit an eclectic neighborhood that was almost completely closed. Sarah will to get creative, mixing hair dyes and kits. She was in the middle of paying off $80,000 in debt she paid for an expansion before having to shutdown. She was worried she might not survive. We need a more flexible loan. Be able to use the loan towards things that we actually need. We might be able to pivot our business somehow. Reporter: Today, she is open, but the social distancing requirements and other covid regulations weigh heavily on Sara's shoulders. Day to day, the emotional toll is great. But owning a business is such a mantle to carry no matter what. This has just been a different mantle and a new mantle that is a lot of work. Reporter: A few blocks away, zuzu's petals was also hit hard. We've been closed since March 22nd. Reporter: She first opened her doors in the early '70s. My store is named after a little girl in the movie "It's a wonderful life." Reporter: Fonda has overcome numerous financial challenges. Our first major problem was in probably 1987, when the real estate market fell apart. 9/11 was a challenge. Hurricane sandy, also, was a big blow to the business, but nothing in my experience measures up to this. You're going to need two more roses. Reporter: She reopened in may, but only for of pickup and contact-free deliveries. There was no question that we were going to open general. You don't walk away from something you've built for 49 Reporter: Her business is starting to bloom again, although slowly. We are making about 50% of what we would normally take in. Reporter: But her bills are the same as when she was making twice as much. The nugget that is going to make or break us is the rent that we owe for leases that we signed during a totally different economic period. I signed a lease four years a with a totally different business model. And a totally different business climate. And that climate and that economy is gone. Reporter: While, she can have customers inside, she said they aren't set up to do that safely, however, she's committed to keep going. It's not a question of being optimistic or pessimistic, it's insisting that I'm not going to go out of business. This is just another challenge, a tough one. Part of what makes it less difficult is that I feel like I'm not alone and that it's a universal experience for all small business. Hello, beautiful store! Reporter: Boutique owner, Diana Kane English shares fonda's concern. If you can't make rent, what happens? If I can't make rent, I will close. That's what happens. I will close. I will liquidate. I could go down after 18 years, because I'm closed for two months. That's not okay. Reporter: Her fear became a reality just a few weeks later. She had to close down her store. I would say in early, mid April it became clear that there wasn't going to be relief long enough and fast enough. There was no out. Reporter: She thinks the government programs could have been structured better to help the little guy. It's been really hard, and so many other people have it as hard or harder, and like, women and minority-owned businesses are getting hit so hard. And I really, I really wish people would take a look and see if that's an acceptable collateral damage to what's going on. Because I don't think it is. I just don't think it is. Reporter: Her only business now is online. People put their heart and soul into their businesses. And at the E of the day, we don't really have anything to show for it, and we didn't have anybody who had our back. Reporter: While New York state has the virus under control for now, the case count is increasing in 37 other states. Texas with over 210,000 reported cases. Hi, Emily! Reporter: We first met Amy Thomas and her husband Lloyd in April, the owners of pecan plaza in that strip mall north of pecan plaza welcomed customers for pickup service while many others in New York were still shuttered. We're so excited about seeing our customers. We're so excited about seeing our friends. Reporter: Amy also owns zuti's, a clothing and embroidery store. You want to see the cash I think we have three cents now. If anything our parents taught us, we're not quitters. Reporter: At that point she was optimistic they would bounce back. Do you think you can recoup what you've lost? Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely. Check back with us in a few years, and I promise you -- I tell you what, you check back with me in a few months. Reporter: Okay. So you invited us back. So here we are. Yes. Reporter: Ten weeks later, Amy and Lloyd's hopefulness has been tempered by realism. Dr. Abbott and his team have all been trying to figure out, how do we balance this? Safety, practice safety as well as being able to keep open the And unfortunately, for all of our elected officials, there's not a manual to go by for this. Reporter: Right, but I will remind you that epidemiologists warned governor Abbott and others that perhaps they were opening too quickly. This is true, yeah. Reporter: While most of pecan's plaza businesses are doing well, Joe's pizza and pasta is struggling. He says customers are wary. It's really hard to do business, yeah. And the people are scared. I don't blame them for being scared. We try to do the best, but you never know. Reporter: The restaurant can only seat at 50% capacity inside. It takes two, three months. That's all my savings gone, so. That is the story of small business. Yes, we are doing whatever we can to stay afloat, but I hope, with all this, people realize how important it is to shop within your community. We do our best to support everyone. We hope everyone supports us as well. Reporter: For other stores in pecan plaza, business is slowly getting back to normal. You were very optimistic when we last spoke. I'm still very, very optimistic. We've really gotten people back into the shop. Part of that reason is they do feel safe, because it is a smaller environment. And we practice social distancing. We will wear masks. I'm still very, very optimistic. How are you? It's been so long! I know. Reporter: Back in Brooklyn, hairstylist, Sara Gilbert also has reason to be hopeful. Within this industry, everyone needs their hair cut. No matter what, when we opened, it was going to be slammed. So we are slammed for this month. I'm just hoping we get through this month, make some Ince before anything has to close down again. Reporter: It's that fighting spirit now fueling so many small businesses across the country. We're holding on for dear life. We're trying hard. We're doing what we need to do to open. We'll ride the storm. We'll see what happens. We'll give it our best.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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