Small business owner Amaurys Grullon, who founded the company Bronx Native with his sister Roselyn in 2015 inside their Bronx apartment, complied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order to keep all nonessential businesses closed, and temporarily shut the doors to the shop.
"We’re just kind of keeping our head over water, just barely making it," Grullon told ABC News' "Perspective" podcast. He says he has seen his profits slashed by almost 50% and now relies on online sales to stay afloat.
Grullon and his sister created their fashion brand after feeling as though the Bronx was lacking representation and apparel that signified the pride of the borough.
"We wanted to wear clothing that identified us, we wanted to wear clothing that empowered us, showcased our history, our culture, and we could not find any Bronx-based merchandise," he said.
After selling merchandise at their first event at Port Morris Distillery in 2016 for a nonprofit called Juntos, they did up to three pop-up shops a day at different locations.
Bronx Native has occupied the space since 2017 after an invitation to host a pop-up shop for two weeks inside the property became a success when their merchandise sold out within the first week. Grullon was also honored with a citation of merit from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz for upstanding service in the community and commitment to social change.
Grullon’s flagship store is at 127 Lincoln Avenue in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, the third-hardest-hit borough in New York City with 32,862 confirmed cases according to the New York City Health Department.
Within that community, data collected by the city's health department shows that the Bronx has the highest rate of infection per 100,000 people in each borough. The New York State Department of Health reveals that African Americans and Hispanics combined have been impacted at a higher rate, accounting for 62% of all fatalities in New York City due to the novel coronavirus, despite representing only 51% of the population.
In Mott Haven, information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and New York City health officials shows Hispanics and African Americans make up roughly 87% of the demographic. Grullon said he’s using the power of social media to help the community.
"We try to post as many things as we can on Instagram and Facebook, like 'Hey, they’re doing free testing at Lehman College, they’re giving out free food for first responders at Beatstro.' So we try to just update people," Grullon said.
Listen to the rest of this past week’s highlights from the Perspective podcast.
The total number of hospitalizations and deaths in New York due to coronavirus are on a downward trajectory statewide, but Cuomo isn’t ready to reopen.
Grullon said they had hoped the quarantine would last for two weeks, but with nonessential businesses in the state ordered close since March 20, he’s unsure about the future of his shop.
"I think if this continues, definitely the physical shop is in danger of being closed. Definitely. But to say that if this continues that the Bronx Native brand overall is going to be shut down. Definitely, not. I would not let that happen."