Naples businesses reopen doors to customers, hope for bounce back

Between expensive rent and losing business during the season, a Naples business doesn’t think it will survive. Another business we spoke to is happy to be back open, even if the customers aren’t bursting through the door quite yet. Either way, the consensus seems to be positive, as businesses in Southwest Florida get back to serving customers.

We visited downtown Naples Monday, where shop owners began their individual reopening phases.

For some businesses, it’s still a bit disheartening.

“A lot of people just don’t feel safe coming back to work yet,” said Ellie Loving, the owner of Vogue Petite Shoppe on 5th Avenue in Naples. “Horrifying, just horrifying. I’ve been here for 30 years, and I will have had my thirtieth anniversary right here in this store, and I have never expected it to end.”

Still, Loving manages to smile and hopes 50% off can help save her boutique on 5th Avenue.

“At this point, I can’t afford the rent,” Loving said. “I can’t afford to pay my bills.”

After more than a month without any income, Vogue Petite Shoppe along with other Naples businesses are finally greeting customers.

“Right now, we have about five people in the store, right now,” Loving said. “So I think that’s a positive sign.”

Brooks Burgers in Naples took extra measures to reopen.

“We do a complete decontamination with a hospital base fog system every morning that kills every nook and cranny in the place,” owner Todd Brooks said. “Everybody has to wear gloves; everybody has to change them; everybody has to wear masks.”

Brooks had to let go of nearly 70% of his staff when the restriction due to the coronavirus pandemic began. But many of them returned to work Monday, even though tables sat empty.

“As odd as it sounds, I love Naples more than I did three months ago. Because I’ve watched people do amazing things,” Brooks said. “It’s a small town full of great people.”

These are people these businesses hope will feel safe enough to come back.

”I hope so,” Loving said. “I hope so.”

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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