'We're starving right now': Small businesses say they're being boxed out of livelihood

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Neighborhood merchants have always insisted they're in unfair competition with big boys, like Target and Walmart. But now in Pennsylvania, the pandemic has eliminated that competition because the little guys have been ordered to close and the behemoths are working on all cylinders.

Joseph Davis owns Fresh Cuts on Midvale, a barbershop in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

"I think it's definitely unfair because we can practice the social distancing," said Davis.

He describes Memorial Day weekend for them as his "income tax time."

People want to look sharp for the unofficial start of summer.

"Over the weekend maybe about 400 customers in three days," he says.

But while some stores continue full steam ahead, Davis had to start a GoFundMe page to try and pay rent and employees.

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"We're starving right now, especially the small businesses, the small, small businesses," said Davis.

His shop has been in East Falls since 2010 and believes it's time to reopen safely.

"If the people that are hands-on were going to be this long (closed), then we should have got something first," he says.

Some customers coming out of the Home Depot in Wyncote on Wednesday night agreed.

Deborah Turner of Wyncote said, "If they can do it safely, masked up and doing their part."

Leo Lefebvre, of Huntingdon Valley, said, "As long as you keep your distance you should be able to."

Some businesses have chosen to defy the governor's shutdown orders.

A Media, Delaware County barbershop owner opened her doors Wednesday.

"My savings is dwindling down and eventually there's not going to be anything left. All of these loans on these grants that they promised everybody, I haven't received anything. So, I needed to be open," said Nichole Missino, owner of Giovanni's.

In Bellmawr, New Jersey, for the third day in a row, the owners of Atilis Gym received summons when they opened their business defying the coronavirus order.

The state of New Jersey may be exploring options within the health department's jurisdiction to close the business.

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