HANOVER, Md. (WJZ) — The plight of small businesses like restaurants, stores and gyms has been well documented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are a lot of other industries that don’t get as much attention that are also hurting.
With fewer people physically going to work, the dress shoes they would typically wear to the office are seeing less wear and tear.
But for those responsible for keeping fancy footwear in tip-top shape, that means a dramatic decline in business.
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At Arundel Mills Mall, cobbler Sunny Yoo has been struggling as he navigates the pandemic restrictions.
“Back in March, late March, we were actually told we had to close down and that was supposed to be about two weeks, and that actually lasted about three months,” Yoo said.
When he finally was able to reopen, Yoo said he saw a dramatic drop in business, down as much as 80 percent.
“The reason for that is because people are not walking as much, going to work, and also they’re pretty scared to come out,” Yoo said.
They received PPP, but that only helped with the payroll. Unfortunately, they didn’t receive any of the other grants or loans they applied for.
“Without that, there’s no way of paying rent, suppliers, because we lost all of our income,” Yoo said.
With cobblers closing up shops across the country, Yoo is determined to avoid the same fate. He’s now offering a mail-in shoe repair.
“The customer ships in the shoes, we repair the shoes and then mail them back to them,” Yoo said. “They don’t have to walk into the store, they don’t have to go through all the troubles.”
In February, Yoo will be moving out of the mall to Ellicott City in hopes of saving a business he loves.
“Most of the people who work in the shoe repair business, they have their passion for their work,” Yoo said. They have pride, and obviously, they want to keep working and if people are not coming to the shop, not dropping the shoes off then there’s no other way for them to survive.”
Yoo added that he hopes to receive some relief from the assistance recently announce by Gov. Larry Hogan.