SALT LAKE CITY — If freeway traffic at the 600 South off-ramp was what it normally would be, more people might have noticed the very hard-to-miss, hand-painted signs outside of Euro Treasures Antiques.
“COVID kills businesses TOO!” one sign stated.
“We give up,” read another.
Of course, the lack of passersby and customers is precisely the point to shop owner Scott Evans, who said the economics of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders have proven overwhelming for his 40-year-old business — to the point he intends to close.
“We’re going to be one of the earliest casualties, but we’re not going to be the only ones,” Evans said. “We are not going to be able to sustain ourselves at these current levels.”
Evans said even emergency loans can’t offset zero sales and large overhead at his warehouse location.
“It’s too big of a problem to solve,” Evans said of the pandemic’s impacts on various businesses, from airlines to department stores to professional sports franchises.
Those realities were weighing on Evans’ daughter, Ashley Booker, as well.
“I’m a single mother of two young children who is struggling, wondering how she is going to pay her bills next week, and it’s all because of COVID,” she said.
On the same day Euro Treasures announced its plans to close, Gov. Gary Herbert outlined several positive developments for Utah’s small businesses — including roughly 1,150 businesses being approved for bridge loans through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and nearly $3.7 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans slated to arrive from the federal government.
“We know that they’ve been hit hard,” Herbert said Thursday afternoon during a daily briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic. “We’re helping our small business people to survive.”
It’s too big of a problem to solve.
–Scott Evans, business owner
Evans said he understands the health concerns of reopening businesses.
A decade ago, he was diagnosed with H1N1.
“After being there for a number of hours, they said, ‘You can be put on this ventilator and it will probably be your last waking moment, or otherwise you are going to die,’” Evans said. “I was in a coma for almost a month. I was nine weeks in the hospital. I was lucky enough to survive. I had multiple organ failure and against all odds — even though I was not expected to live — I did survive, and now it’s 10 years.”
He said that ordeal remains a “touchy subject” today.
“We lost our home. We had a very difficult climb back to being able to stay in business for an additional 10 years after H1N1, and now we’re getting killed by the COVID even though we don’t have the COVID here,” said Evans, referring to his store.
He said the long-term economic costs should be addressed and discussed on a more meaningful level.
“It’s the final nail in the coffin for me,” Evans said. “I don’t believe that I’m alone and I don’t think that voice is being heard.”