Local businesses ‘exhausted’ trying to survive during COVID

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s the second holiday season in this pandemic, and local business leaders say they’re exhausted — especially after news of the omicron variant popping up in the U.S.

Local businesses say they are really counting on this year to make up for all they’ve lost.

Lluvia Merello owns and runs Indigenous Come Up, a pop up storefront for a business that has been around in Portland since 2018.

Merello said there was definitely a time during the pandemic where she thought her business wouldn’t be able to continue.

She continued saying times have been especially tough in the indigenous community where people rely a lot on in person markets. Her business tried online sales, but it ended up being expensive and time consuming.

The president of the Portland Business Alliance Andrew Hoan said Portlanders should put their money where their hearts are and shop local.

Last year’s numbers show that 25% of businesses in the nearly 215 square block radius of downtown had to shutter their windows permanently.

Hoan said of businesses who have closed down, it’s bitter sweet at best. But how do you say to people in leadership your choice to save lives is wrong?

“It’s this emotional wave where oh the pandemic is ebbing,” Hoan said. “Then it’s back with a new wave. It’s the crushing feeling that I know all of us sense, where you have a moment and a glimpse where maybe you’ll be able to connect with people again in person and gather in groups and then you hear about a new variant.”

He said even with the seemingly constant changes and while their response may be imperfect, they believe that public health has been prioritized here and frankly admire the commitment that the state has had.

Merello said her business finally got a break this summer and saw record sales, but with the news of a new variant it’s bringing back trauma from the delta variant shutting a lot down.

“I’m really exhausted, she said. “I was so ready as an event organizer to have a full schedule of events that I felt so confident about, and this week has just been back to questioning next year 2022 we just don’t know.”

Merello said restrictions have not stopped people from frequenting the store, and despite some fatigue, people are still respectful and following masking rules. Merello said she had to find a way to survive, and for a lot of folk this is their way of life. Their sales may have stopped at a time, but their art never did.

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