Local businesses find way forward amid pandemic

Some businesses told KEZI 9 News that if stores like Target can be open to the public right now, small businesses should also be allowed, as long as they are taking all the safety precautions.

Posted: May 7, 2020 6:51 PM
Updated: May 8, 2020 8:55 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Bridal shops, florists, venues and photographers are all patiently waiting, hoping couples are able to walk down the aisle again soon.

Summer is usually a busy time for weddings, graduations, showers and gatherings. However with summer events being canceled or put on hold, some bills aren't being paid and some venues have been forced to shift gears.

“Focusing on the retail business which is doing very well during this time but still difficult without the restaurants,” said King Estate Winery communications director Jenny Ulum.

The King Estate Restaurant has been closed since March along with many other local businesses.

RELATED: KING ESTATE RESTAURANT TEMPORARILY CLOSES OUT OF CAUTION FOR CORONAVIRUS

However, Ulum said they distribute their wine nationally, which helps offset the costs of the restaurant being closed.

Some businesses told KEZI 9 News that if stores like Target can be open to the public right now, small businesses should also be allowed, as long as they are taking all the safety precautions. 

“I wish there would be a little more flexibility and trust that people aren’t stupid. We can be wise and move forward and have some business to keep businesses afloat,” photographer Bruce Berg said.

“I’ve worked really hard for this business. My husband and I put everything we have into it, so if we have to remain closed, we will lose it,” Farmfancy owner Jennifer Egge said.

Other business owners in the area are also concerned.

Aside from having no tuxedo and dress sales for prom, Blush Bridal, the only locally-owned bridal store in the Eugene-Springfield area, has had 30 different bridal appointments canceled during the busiest season of the year for them.

“Those brides were potential clients of ours. For a small business like ours that is a huge chunk out of the amount of dresses we sell in a year,” owner Jennifer Gaskill said.

Jennifer Gaskill said she had to furlough all her employees, apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loan and grants and do whatever they could to stay afloat. Luckily, Blush Bridal received a PPP loan in the second round and Gaskill was able to bring back all of her employees.

While they are still doing private appointments, they lost all their prom sales and potential new clients.

However, they're hoping those clients come back and support local businesses, something that’s essential to their survival after this is all over.

“My hope is that we have a line waiting out the door when we are finally able to open at full capacity and that brides are super excited about coming in," Gaskill said.

Gaskill said she treats every bride and employee like family. She said she will do everything in her power to make brides' experiences memorable, pandemic or not. 

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