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Some San Diego Businesses Reopen To Scarce Customers

Gabriel Ortiz, an employee at Soccer Solutions, at work on the first day the business was allowed to reopen on Friday, May 8th, 2020.
Matthew Bowler
Gabriel Ortiz, an employee at Soccer Solutions, at work on the first day the business was allowed to reopen on Friday, May 8th, 2020.

After almost two months closed, some businesses across the state are being allowed to reopen Friday.

Bookstores, music stores, florists, clothing stores and other low-risk retailers are among those businesses.

Along El Cajon Boulevard, however, many of those remained closed. Without customers willing to browse aisles or the extra money to spend on retail, business has ground to a halt.

Soccer Solutions in City Heights had been closed for two months since the pandemic hit. It’s where youth soccer leagues in the area buy their apparel, but with no leagues allowed to resume, business was non-existent on their first day back open.

"We relied so much on the community and the sports. That’s what we do. At the same time when they close parks, everything stops completely for us," said Gabriel Ortiz, who has worked at Soccer Solutions for three years. “If there’s no sports in the parks, we’re done."

RELATED: City Heights Fashion Designer Turns To Masks To Stay In Business During Pandemic

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Ortiz himself has been on unemployment since the pandemic. While he’s been able to pay his own bills, the store itself is still waiting on any assistance from the state and federal governments.

"We applied for all this help from the government, but its been around two months that we haven’t heard nothing yet," he told KPBS. "We have to pay rent, a lot of bills and there’s no income.”

Across the street, a line snaked around the Bank of America. People are cashing their stimulus checks or getting cash advances on their unemployment debit cards, which are issued by the bank.

Ortiz said he hopes that with some more money in their pockets, people will start flocking back to stores.

As the business enters its third month with no revenue to speak of, however, the situation is still perilous at independent shops.

“We hope that things get better, and people can trust a little more to get out,” he said.

Seeing the lack of interest on the boulevard, the shop is taking the weekend off and will reopen again on Monday, when hopefully people in City Heights will be able to spend again.

Some San Diego Businesses Reopen To Scarce Customers
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.