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'If I close my store it's probably going to be for good' | Small business owners struggle to break even as COVID-19 case counts rise

Vintage to Vogue Boutique owner Jennifer Graf is hopeful heading into the holiday season that people will shop locally and help build small businesses back up.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Editor's note: the video above is from a different story.

Small business owners are on alert as they watch COVID-19 cases climb. 

Some fear not only for their health, but the future of their business as well. 

Vintage to Vogue Boutique owner Jennifer Graf said it's been a struggle trying to drive sales up. 

"If I close my store it's probably going to be for good at this point," Graf said.

Since Graf reopened her downtown Greensboro boutique at the beginning of phase one back in May, it's been a struggle to break even. 

"The sales have been cut in half since last year," she said. 

The lack of sales forced Graf to make cuts to staff. 

She's tried to capitalize on website sales, but trying to manage that and her brick and mortar shop on her own has been difficult. 

As she watches COVID-19 case counts rise, shes worried restrictions could tighten up, but says her conscience also comes into play.

RELATED: The deadline is TODAY! Are you eligible for rent & utility assistance? Apply now.

"We do face the fear that that might be something that might happen again here and even if it doesn't are we responsible keeping our stores open?" Graf said. 

At Vivid Interiors in Downtown Greensboro, Gina Hicks and Laura Mensch said they've seen people take more interest in interior design.

"Everybody's at home I think they're noticing any flaws any issues they've had to stare at since March," Hicks said.

The pair said retail sales are still slow, but the two are encouraging everyone to shop locally, especially heading into the holiday season.

 "I want everybody to do their Christmas shopping downtown," said Mensch, "The money that you spend locally stays in Greensboro."

They fear it might be some small business owners' last hope at keeping their doors open.

There is more relief for some businesses as part of Governor Roy Cooper's latest executive order.

Full-service restaurants can apply for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance, up to $20,000.

Starting Thursday, Nov. 12, full-service restaurants will be eligible to apply to the MURR Program for the first time, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce website. 

Restaurants can request direct payments for up to four months of rent or mortgage interest up to $20,000 per location. The Department of Commerce said restaurants will not be eligible for utility cost reimbursement.

The Department of Commerce said restaurants can only apply for assistance for two locations and must employ fewer than 50 people at the location where they are seeking assistance.

RELATED: Phase 3 limits indoor gatherings to 10 people, what does this mean for businesses?