BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As Phase Two of New York State's reopening process begins in Western New York, small businesses in some of Buffalo's most popular shopping ares are working to make ends meet. Hertel Avenue stores have been looking to one another and the community for support as they move forward. For about five weeks, the Hertel Business Association has been running a sign campaign, and using money raised from it to support local stores.
"We're selling lawn sings and stickers that have the slogan on it to the community. And all the proceeds are going to go back to the businesses on Hertel Avenue," explained Jodi Drew from the business association.
"We came up with this program to help businesses pay for some of their smaller loans," said Lisa Samar, who owns Daisy's Doghouse.
So far, the sign campaign has raised $10,000, and each of the 25 business that applied for help paying bills has gotten it every week.
"We're divvying it up to make sure that every single business that applies is getting something," explained Drew.
Drew is on the board of the association, but also owns Spoke and Dagger on Hertel, and can tell you first-hand how the business climate is right now.
"It's pretty stressful - June will be the third month that we have to pay rent since our store was closed," she explained.
So far two Hertel shops have closed their doors in the wake of the pandemic. Pastry by Camille and The Second Reader Bookshop will not reopen following COVID-19. Many of the other small shops on Hertel are hoping to hope their doors next week, but they don't know what the resonse from the shopping community will be.
"The uncertainty," explained Drew. "I feel like as a small business owner you have to be super organized, and have a game plan, have a business plan, have projections. And it's really difficult to be able to see some of those things through when you really just have no idea what's to come."
While the reopening takes shape, Hertel businesses can continue to apply for help from the campaign. That's why there's a new push to keep it going, and keep the small business support in North Buffalo.
"I have concerns but I think that - I think that it's going to be ok. I think that really people are very supportive," said Samar. "People really want Hertel Avenue to thrive. And to continue to thrive."