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Omaha businesses owners reflect on a year amid COVID-19

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For many small business owners around the Omaha-metro area, the first year of the pandemic caused many sleepless nights as many worried about how they would keep their doors open.

It has been a rough year for some business owners in the Florence area, the pandemic forcing some to do business in a different way and set up new rules for their customers to follow.

For barber Gerald Moore, some of the changes have been hard. Moore, who has a lung disease, said he’s been fighting to keep his business open — and fighting to breathe at the same time.

“I have to try to work around it and be cautious as far as working,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to work with a mask when you can’t breathe already without a mask.”

Roger Bennett is also a survivor. He’s been a hairstylist for 45 years. Restrictions at the start of the pandemic forced him to close his shop.

“I only allow two people, and they usually have to live together; or they’re a caretaker, and I put in extra ventilation,” he said. “I’m not taking very many new customers unless they’re recommended by customers, so I know they’re taking this pandemic seriously.”

He said the stimulus checks helped him stay afloat, providing just enough to pay the bills.

“I’m self-employed, so having no income for six weeks, was really scary,” he said. “Those stimulus (payments) helped me get through it — gave me half of what I was normally making, so that kept my bills paid. But it didn’t give me any extra.”

Some businesses actually started up during the pandemic.

Donald Chamberlain, who owns Ramona’s Mexican Restaurant, opened his doors when the pandemic hit.

“I’m glad that it happened the way it did ‘cause we learned a lot going through, and we adjusted,” he sad. “And there’s stuff that we probably would have never did it — it would have never happened.”

Chamberlain is hoping business will be better in 2021 for small businesses in Florence and the rest of the Omaha-metro area.

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