By Emily Drooby
Christine’s Beauty Salon is a staple of the mostly residential neighborhood of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. It’s a place that feels more like a home than a business, because for 45 years it’s been owner Cristina Ayala’s second home.
But soon, it will be gone.
Cristina opened up shop a few years after moving to Brooklyn from Colombia back in the 1970s. Working there with her husband was their American dream.
“My customers were always wonderful, they became my family,” she told Currents News.
Those customers and that space became a place of solace when tragedy struck her family.
“This is my home, this is my home,” she said. “You know, after I lost my husband, it was very painful, and I was able to go on because of all of my customers.” Her husband passed about six years ago.
Soon the shop will close, and the pandemic is to blame.
In New York the number of open small businesses has decreased about 24 percent since the start of the pandemic, according to Harvard-run database, TrackTheRecovery.org.
Many have been forced to close their doors because of a lack of revenue, and Cristina is now one of them.
It has been the perfect storm. During the beginning of the pandemic, she was forced to shut down for three months. Once she was able to reopen, she saw an estimated 70 percent drop in her average revenue.
She has also had a lot of customers moving, all part of a greater trend of people leaving New York City because of the pandemic. Cristina was also unable to negotiate cheaper rent with her landlord, and currently pays several thousand dollars a month
“I could not keep the place open anymore, it’s very painful,” she explained.
Even with the promise of the vaccine and a stimulus bill, she said she can’t make it.
The devout Catholic and parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus Church has been leaning on God for help.
“I have a lotta, lotta, faith in God,” she said. “And I believe that whatever happens, there’s a reason why. And I’m going to take it from there, and one day at a time.”
The shop will be closed by January 1. Cristina plans to offer at-home services for her loyal and longtime customers.