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Shop owners worry if business will survive NY-ordered shutdown

Long Islanders on Sunday reacted to the mandatory

Long Islanders on Sunday reacted to the mandatory shut down of non-essential businesses, while store owners attempt to survive the coronavirus crisis. Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger, Raychel Brightman

Spring is supposed to be the busiest season for Dan Lavery’s tattoo parlor on East Main Street in Smithtown.

The summer is coming. Students are on spring break. People are expecting to receive their tax returns.

But traffic at Lavery’s business, Liberty Tattoo Company, was down by more than 50% this week, except on Saturday when customers rushed in before it closed at 8 p.m. to comply with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s order that all personal care services, including nail salons and barber shops, must close.

“We are looking at an uncertain future right now. It’s pretty scary,” the 38-year-old said Saturday afternoon. “The rents are still due on the first. All those bills are still coming in. We are not going to be making any income. … It’s going to be sad tonight.”

The father of three wondered what it meant for him and his family. As long as his store remains shuttered, he and his four employees will not get a paycheck.

“How am I going to provide for my family? I can make it for a month or two. Maybe even three,” said Lavery of Yaphank. “But what happens after that? I mean, I don't know.”

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After the shutdown of the personal service industry on Saturday, the next wave of financial stress and emotional pain will be felt across Long Island among the florist shops, gift stores and clothing boutiques as non-essential businesses statewide are ordered to close by 8 p.m. Sunday.

The measures, meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed hundreds of Americans, have left some shop owners wondering if their business would survive the financial blow.

Chris Hollenstein, a co-owner of Chris & Rob’s Hallmark Shop on Covert Avenue in Garden City, said closing the business would hurt, especially with the coming holidays.

“You got Easter, Mother’s Day and confirmations,” said Hollenstein, 60, of Smithtown. “There’s a lot going on in April and May. I’m worried. If this prolongs too much longer, it may cause us to close.”

Boris Grossman, who owns Davidoff of Geneva in Brooklyn, said he had already closed the lounge section of the business when the governor said restaurants could be takeout only. Grossman, of Rockville Center, also owns Matador Cigars, which has locations in Roslyn Heights, Massapequa Park and Hauppauge.

“I had to reduce business hours,” said Grossman, 52, adding that he had to freeze vendor payments to companies and reduced his staff by half to 10 employees. “A lot of businesses are not going to be able to come back from this. Battling the virus is a priority as well as trying to preserve the small business community.”

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