PORTER RANCH (CBSLA.com) — Small business owners in Porter Ranch say their business has dropped significantly since the discovery of a natural gas leak two months ago in the Aliso Canyon.
"We're looking at our papers and our numbers. It's gone down big-time," said Sandra Hava, owner of Elli Boutique in Porter Ranch, near the site of the Southern California Gas Co. leak.
The downturn in local shopping is even more distressing since it's happening during what is expected to be the busiest time of year.
The owners of a nearby nail salon installed an air purifier in an attempt to win back concerned customers. (Many residents in the area have reported headaches, nausea and nose bleeds, among other symptoms).
About 2,000 residents have already accepted an offer from SoCal Gas to be relocated from the area. About 2,000 more residents are working to be relocated.
Some people have said Porter Ranch is beginning to resemble a "ghost town."
But business owners often don't have the same flexibility to change locations.
"I'm stuck," said Wines & Spirits of the World owner Ronnie Sangh. "It's such a big investment. I'm just making ends meet right now. There's barely anyone here."
Another concern is that once the holidays are over, even more families will relocate -- leaving fewer customers to sustain local businesses.
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