AKRON, Ohio (AP) – Operators of a northeast Ohio bridal shop linked to an Ebola survivor say the store is closing because it lost significant business and has been stigmatized.
Dallas nurse Amber Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola days after visiting Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal store in Akron in October. The store closed for three weeks and cleaned before reopening in November, but business hasn’t bounced back.
“We had a big opening and we had hoped that the publicity may even have been a good thing,” owner Anna Younker told the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “But now we are the Ebola shop. Customers are tired of hearing ‘Oh, you bought it at the Ebola shop.'”
Younker told the Akron Beacon Journal the temporary closure and canceled orders cost the store at least $100,000, which wasn’t covered by her insurance because it excludes viral illnesses.
The store will take orders until the end of January and then sell dresses at discounts and liquidate all assets.
“Our customers have been great. We tried to call everyone who had an order with us before we closed,” Younker told the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “They weren’t surprised but sad for us, they understood.”
No sign of Ebola was ever found in the store. Its manager was temporarily put under home quarantine, and some employees and customers were among the 160-plus Ohio residents whose health was monitored by officials for several weeks after Vinson’s diagnosis because of their proximity to her.
Younker says she thought about reopening elsewhere under a new name but isn’t likely to do that.
Akron officials offered to help relocate or save the store but Younker doesn’t plan to take the city up on that offer.
Akron’s deputy mayor of economic development tells the Akron Beacon Journal city officials have considered several ideas to aid the store. The possibilities included helping it relocate and using grant money intended for business development.
Store manager Kayla Litz says relocating would be a big financial risk, so the answer at this point is no.
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