Small Business Owners In Brooklyn Thrilled By Phase 1 Reopening; ‘You Could See Me Smiling Behind My Mask’

It’s back to business for many with curbside or in-store pickup.

Phase 1 may seem small, but it’s a big step forward for the city, which has been in lockdown since March.

CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis visited stores in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

There have been toys sitting untouched on the shelves at the Little Things Toy Store for months, but one made it outside, which means that doors are open — at least for curbside pickup.

“You could see me smiling behind my mask right now,” said Mitchell Szpicek, the shop’s owner.

Szpicek said it’s not the same as having kids inside.

“They would come into the store and spend a half hour, hour playing with the trains. It was a big part of the community, and now it’s just basically a pick-up service, which is not what we’re in business for,” he said.

For now he’ll take what he can get to keep the 40-year-old business afloat, saying right now, with delivery orders and online sales, business is about 20% of what it was prior to the pandemic.

“We hope if things get back to normal in September we’ll be able to stay in business. If they don’t, then we have to cut staff, cut expenses, maybe cut stores,” he said.

Two of the three stores are on Seventh Avenue. Leann Jordan manages one.

“This job is everything to me. I love it. I love the customers. I love working with toys,” Jordan said. “Just happy and excited to be back at work.”

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On the same block is Community Book store. The owner said he’s officially opening for curbside pickup on Tuesday, and looking forward to seeing customers face to face.

“We’ve been working pretty much nonstop for the last week getting ready for this,” said co-owner Ezra Goldstein.

Goldstein said online sales have kept the store running, but he’s worried about the future for others.

“We depend almost entirely on foot traffic. Foot traffic is generated by having a vibrant business strip,” he said. “Five or six empty storefronts on our block, and we’re very concerned that after the pandemic there’ll be even more. So we’re very hopeful for our neighbors.”

Goldstein is looking forward to in store shopping, which Mayor Bill de Blasio said could be as soon as two weeks away. It’s all about the metrics.

But for now, many are just happy to be back, and in business.

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