The makeup of University Heights is changing as more businesses close down for good, but there are still many family-owned stores determined to make it.
"When you see someone close their doors it's hard and you think 'Oh my God, am I next?'" said Cecilia Vazquez.
Vazquez has been in the jewelry business for decades. Her family-run store, Cecilia's Fine Jewelry, is located on the corner of Park Boulevard and Adams Avenue in University Heights.
"I love my job, I love my customers. I mean, they're my life and not being able to be here or not being able to actually hug them, it's difficult," said Vazquez.
As a businesswoman, Vazquez knows it's not easy to run a shop. She entered the pandemic already juggling major building renovations.
"Then a lot of problems happened when they put me in half my store and then COVID hit and I had to be closed for three months, no money coming in, no income," she said.
This past holiday weekend would've normally generated a great profit for many businesses, but sales are down. Traffic at stores on Black Friday fell by 52.1% compared with last year, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.
"Some of my customers, they work less hours now or they lost their jobs, so they're actually not thinking of buying an anniversary gift or a birthday present for the wife or husband or kids, because money is not there," said Vazquez.
As shoppers aren't flocking to stores as they've done during past holidays, it's leaving Vazquez determined to do all she can to stay open and continue providing jewelry for her community.
"I'm fighting against the big guys, big jewelry stores and I'm proud to say I have won a few of those, many of those," she said with a chuckle.