Despite Odds of Pandemic, Some New Mass. Businesses Are Opening

Nearly 2,000 small businesses polled by MassInc Polling Group say they rely on customers coming through the door

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Despite many Massachusetts businesses closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are some new ones that have managed to open.

Barbershop owner Julio Guerrero was supposed to open Temple of Groom in Kenmore Square, his second location, in April.

"We were super excited about it," he said.

Then the pandemic hit.

"What am I gonna do? I can't keep paying rent and have the place closed," he said.

He was finally able to reopen in August under less than ideal conditions.

"We only allow two customers at a time and two barbers," he explained.

Business review app, Yelp, reports 60% of closed businesses won't reopen due to the pandemic. Local pollsters also seeing grim statistics.

"The businesses in the most trouble were businesses that rely on customers coming through the door," said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group.

His team polled nearly 2,000 small businesses across Massachusetts in July.

But despite the odds, there are new businesses sprouting up, experts say.

"It's hard to hear about other's hardships, but also really good for us to be opening up and welcoming our industry brothers," said Jeremy Delgado, manager of The Dial Restaurant inside the new 907 Main hotel.

The boutique hotel in Cambridge's Central Square just held its ribbon cutting. They planned to open this past Spring, but COVID-19 brought everything to a full stop.

"The best thing you can do in a storm is sail straight into it and that's what we're doing," said Patrick Barrett, the property's owner.

They realize what they're up against as what would have been a bustling location is quiet now.

"No graduations, no conference meetings, no travelers coming to see their children while they're at college," said Kathryn Vallier, the hotel's general manager.

To survive, the hotel must adjust by offering discounts, outdoor dining options and round the clock cleaning.

As for Guerrero, it's not just about a luxury cut, but building customer relationships that last longer than any virus.

"It's not about making money and putting money in your pocket… but also giving back to the community," he said.

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