As Winter Park businesses close due to COVID-19, concerns are raised over future of Park Avenue

Five stores have shut down along Winter Park's Park Avenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say, and several more business owners are worried they could be next.

The Park Avenue District says five stores have closed since the pandemic began and five more are on the brink of shutting down for good too. 

"If you want to continue to see the small business on Park Avenue and you want to continue to see these unique shops that are one of a kind, then we need to respond now," said Sarah Grafton, president of the Park Avenue District

Lisa West, the owner of a Park Avenue boutique Charyli, said she is making it by with curbside pickup and online shopping, adding that everyone isn't comfortable shopping indoors yet. She also said that they have focused their inventory on comfortable leisurewear and bathing suits, which is making more revenue for the store. West said she is worried about the future of Park Avenue. 

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"I’m starting to feel like I’m going to be the last man standing because all of my corners are empty," West said. "If we don’t have our retail spaces filled it really doesn’t give anybody that sense of urgency, like if they’re a tourist to come to visit Winter Park. And, we get a lot of tourists normally, but right now we have very few." 

Businesses all over Central Florida are struggling. Historic Mount Dora has had four stores shut down since the pandemic began. The West Orange Chamber of Commerce said retail and restaurants are trying to stay afloat. 

"This is by far the most difficult time," said Stina D'Uva, the president/CEO of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. "I don’t think anyone can say there’s been a more difficult time. This one is it but we’re resilient."

The Park Avenue District has started a GoFundMe to raise money so they can give grants to Winter Park businesses. 


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