With non-essential stores closed, small businesses wonder if they'll ever recover

SEATTLE – In the month of March, Jamie Hoffman saw sales at his vintage store take a nosedive week-by-week until it was finally closed on Wednesday.

He owns Fremont Vintage Mall in Seattle. You may have heard of them or seen them through the rapper Macklemore, who shot much of his music video for “Thrift Shop” inside Hoffman’s store.

“The impact is very dramatic,” said Hoffman. “As tough as it is on a business like myself, I think it’s necessary right now.”

Yoga studios, nail salons, boutique shops, barber shops and more were ordered to close following Governor Jay Inslee’s most recent Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. At least for the businesses that have managed to stay open.

Just last week, we interviewed the owner of Blue Highway Games. Scott Cooper said families were flooding in to purchase stacks of board games and puzzles.

His store in Seattle’s Upper Queen Anne neighborhood was closed on Wednesday, and the business website now has this message for customers:

“We will re-open when the state allows non-essential businesses to do so. While we think games are a great way to spend time with friends & family, it's hard to argue that they are essential.”

Business owners are hoping the federal stimulus bill will provide relief that is both quick and easy to access. He also said that loans with high interest rates would not be helpful, and just put businesses like his in further debt.

“I think that’s the key,” said Hoffman on having aid that is simple and accessible. “As we go to another month of this, that’s really where it’s going to get to be desperate times for a lot of businesses.”

In recent weeks, Hoffman and his two teenage sons have started the process of taking pictures of their vintage and antique products to sell online.

In fact, one of their most recent products posted on Instagram on March 13, was picked up by a loyal shopper.

“One of the very first days we really stepped up the online, Macklemore reached out to us and bought a product from us to help support us,” said Hoffman. “It looks like a high-heel shoe in a leopard print chair that he purchased. So we do have some great people in the community that want to see us continue on.”

If you’d like to support a local business, Hoffman suggests that you reach out to them directly. Some customers have been paying it forward by purchasing gift cards.