By Dan Koob


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Local small businesses are sharing their struggles with Eyewitness News. They are facing many hurdles because of the various shutdowns.

While people load up on items at big box stores and those stores load up on new workers, smaller, locally-owned stores are hurting.

People peeked inside Riverwards Produce to find the popular corner store closed Thursday as owner Vincent Finazzo has been forced to reassess how to run his store.

“It was the single hardest day I’ve ever experienced owning a business,” Finazzo said.

Coronavirus Update: Latest On COVID-19 Cases, School Closings And Cancellations Across Delaware Valley

On Wednesday, Finazzo announced on Instagram that he had laid off over 20 employees — two-thirds of his staff.

The store has been observing social distancing and has not allowed more than five shoppers at a time.

But reducing foot traffic, paired with cancellations and caps on orders from distributors, has put Finazzo in a difficult position.

It’s an increasingly familiar story for locally-owned businesses.

“We’re going to stay open and be a resource for the community as long as possible. If I have to run the store myself, I plan to do so,” Finazzo said.

Coronavirus Latest: COVID-19 Spreading Rapidly In Philly As Cases Rise To 44; South Philly Testing Site Hoping To Open Friday

Meanwhile, Acme’s struggles are staffing and stocking. They announced they’re hiring immediately across 164 area stores.

One manager tells CBS3 he anticipates adding between 20 and 30 people in his store alone.

The juxtaposition is a struggle for Finazzo.

“I think that that’s irresponsible for bigger companies to act as giant Petri dishes for this virus,” Finazzo said.

But Finazzo says he will continue to fight.

“This is so real. And we’re experiencing in our own micro-climate within my small business but this is affecting everyone,” he said.

Riverwards will be open Friday, albeit with a much smaller staff.

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that employees of Riverwards Produce have been laid off. They have not been fired.)