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Small business owner impacted by pandemic, two hurricanes hopes COVID-19 vaccine rollout will mean better year

Natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic led to a difficult year with financial losses and other hardships

BEAUMONT, Texas — It's been tough for small business owners trying to tread through the murkiness of 2020. 

Some have had to close for good. 

Others changed the way they do business just to survive. 

A pandemic, two hurricanes and a loss of multiple employees led to an extremely difficult 2020 for Steven Stoma's store, S & M. With the vaccine rollouts, he's hoping for a better 2021. 

"The whole thing has been a little bit more of a challenge," Stoma said. 

Stoma's father started the business 64 years ago. 

In all those years, 2020 has been the toughest. 

"Dad's 95 years old. He spent two years in the Pacific Ocean during World War II and he says this was tougher for him," Stoma said. 

The company took a hit financially. 

"It's been uniformly off, you know, anywhere between 20 and 30 percent since this thing began," Stoma said. 

MORE | Small business resources

It wasn't just the pandemic. Stoma has a store in Lake Charles too. Laura and Delta added more strain. 

"We lost about 3 quarters of a million dollars on inventory," Stoma said. 

The losses didn't stop there. 

Employees have had to quit due to COVID-19 concerns and the natural disasters. But now, a sign of hope. Business is picking up, thanks in part to the holiday season. 

Stoma isn't alone in the challenges he's facing. 

According to the US Small Business Association retail industries took about a 57 percent hit. 

In November, that number improved to 24 percent. 

The reason things are getting better? Many of the shutdowns nationwide were lifted in November. 

For Stoma, those numbers are encouraging. It's the advancements in science that could be the key to getting back to normal. 

"I'm just real excited because these vaccines are going to get out and I can't wait to get one plugged in my arm. We may see things start to get back to normal by the summer," Stoma said. 

(Editor's Note: The above video aired on Dec. 22, 2020) 

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