RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - A business in Richmond Hill is being forced to lay off all its workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All things Chocolate and More" is still operating by doing curbside and pick-up only, but still that's not enough.
Employees say they’re sad because their job here is something that they look forward to everyday. Not to mention seeing each other every day, but now that they’re being laid off the feeling is bittersweet.
"I found out on Friday afternoon that Ameris Bank sent me an email saying that the government ran out of funds for the help,” store owner Sara Lopez-Smith said.
Lopez-Smith said after finding out their emergency funding request was denied, it was a feeling that left a pit in her stomach.
"I know the community loves this store and I'm pretty sure they will help to get out of this bad time, but that's all that I can do for now I did my best,” Lopez-Smith said.
She says in the four years she's been in business, she was finally starting to feel like things were on the up and that she had finally established a solid team.
"For the first time I felt like this is the dream team, this is the team that you want to keep with you and that you want to see growing with you and this is the team that gives you more than you can give them."
With overall sales down by 75 percent and chocolate sales on the decline, Lopez-Smith says as a small business it's hard to keep a full staff without the same business they had before the pandemic.
"It was my only job, in the summer I do work as an assistant teacher but as of right now we are not 100 percent sure what is going to happen with all of that,” waitress Michi Dominquez said.
Dominguez, who's been working there since high school, said she's remaining positive through it all.
"I have grown a big relationship with everyone here, I love everyone with my whole heart, and they are truly amazing people deep down and it's going to be a little hard."
Same goes for baker Nicole Craft who says baking was a form of art for her.
"It's really hard not being able to do that because I enjoy it a lot, it's not something that I come and say oh no I have to go to work today, I actually enjoy going in to work and creating things,” Craft said.
Lopez-Smith says they will only be open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Many people including the employees who were laid off have offered to work with no pay. She says if they get the funds they need to stay afloat, everyone will be rehired immediately.