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"We're doing the best we can" | Small businesses worry they are losing customers by the day

From barbers to yoga instructors, many business owners are trying to figure out how to stay in business and stay safe, at the same time.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When fewer and fewer people walk through the doors of a small business, it also means fewer and fewer people are stand in line at registers.

"We are doing the best we can," West End Shop Owner, Patti Dunkin, said. 

But like many small businesses nationwide, doing their best means working despite seeing customers dwindle.

"All of a sudden we go from 12 to 25 haircuts a day to six," she said.

West End is one of the millions of small businesses nationwide facing coronavirus. In Knoxville, small businesses make up about 80% of Knoxville Chamber members. That includes places like River Sports.

"I think we're all vulnerable," owner Ed McAlister said.

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McAllister said he has seen his business change too.

"Oh yes probably 75% less," he said. "We're doing everything in our power to do it easier for you and we're all concerned about the health aspect."

The impact has even hit yoga teachers across the country. Jill Bartine started teaching nine years ago. Now, she went from teaching 12 classes weekly to teaching none.

"So I've had to find a way to both supplement that lost income," she said.

She's now teaching classes online for $25 dollars a month.

"I hope people will realize these closures, yoga studios and fitness centers are affecting the teachers," she added.

RELATED: List of cancellations, closings in Knoxville, East Tennessee due to coronavirus concerns

It is affecting workers across industries. Earlier this week a group launched a GoFundMe for service workers in need, and so far it has raised more almost $10,000 over the last couple of days. The members said it has gotten over 200,000 requests and it is trying to reach as many people as it can.

"No one know how long this is going to go on, no one knows how long we will be out of work," Small Industry Coalition Knoxville member James Gullett said.

In the meantime businesses said they are just hoping, praying and trying to stay as positive as they can.

"So, I think everybody in small business just needs a hug," McAlister said. "We can't give hugs but come by and honk and wave."

RELATED: State confirms 154 coronavirus cases in TN including Cumberland Co.; mayor reporting 1st case in Anderson Co.

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