EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As many El Paso small businesses are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, one Downtown shoe cobbler is getting a little help from the community after going viral on social media.
El Pasoan Jaime Rodriguez has been fixing shoes for 64 years, starting when he was just 8 years old. He said that lately, few people have been stopping by his small shop located on Mesa Street in Downtown.
“The people don’t have money and they don’t want to go out,” said Rodriguez.
When KTSM 9 News asked Rodriguez if he was making enough money to stay open, he replied, “No, not a lot, but we’re still here.”
However, this week things changed, thanks to a post shared more than 1,500 times on social media. When walking by the shoe repair shop, the phone could be heard ringing, repeatedly.
Rodriguez told KTSM he wasn’t sure why business had been better this week, saying he doesn’t have any social media. That’s when KTSM showed Rodriguez the viral Facebook post about his business.
“1,638 — it’s very good, thank you, thank you, said Rodriguez as he saw the number of shares on the post. “I’m more famous,” he said smiling.
Rodriguez is thankful for the community support even though he wasn’t aware of the post, but he was also unaware of CARES Act money available to El Paso businesses who are struggling.
“We’ve gotten feedback that a lot of businesses aren’t taking advantage of what is being offered, because they think it’s too good to be true or they need to pay it back,” said Miranda Diaz, with the City of El Paso Economic and International Development.
The grant money is coming from the Coronavirus Ad, Relief and Economic Security Act “CARES Act” and is being administered to the businesses through three nonprofit organizations.
Diaz added that the Economic and International Development is working to do more outreach to let businesses like Rodriguez’s shoe repair about the grant money still available and to help them with applying.
“We’re trying to be as flexible as possible, because we do understand that there are a lot of businesses, especially in our community, the way that a lot of businesses work it’s on a notebook and it’s nothing formal or nothing on QuickBooks or anything like that,” said Diaz.
For now, it’s the community reaching out to show their support, keeping businesses like Rodriguez’s shoe repair open, but there are other resourses available and you can find more information here.
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