End of the line: Business closes doors for good during pandemic

By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 18, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – While many local businesses are finally allowing customers return, some have already suffered a fatal blow. Small, independent businesses have been especially hard hit, like Paws Pet Boutique off Thomasville Road.

Despite a loyal customer base, management said stay-at-home orders evaporated revenue, but the costs continued to pile up.

For 13 years, Paws was a part of lives of regulars who purchased upscale pet food and grooming services. Shelia Zapp has taken her dog to get pampered for five years.

"They've taken very good care of her, better than most groomers," she said.

Kate Robertson has worked at the pet shop for a decade. She said it's been a fantastic experience.

"Especially watching [the dogs] grow up, I've been here so long I've seen puppies get big," she said.

Robertson said customers stockpiled supplies just before the lock down, but curbside service just couldn't keep up.

"Probably in the middle of March our business just dropped off," she said.

Leaders at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce have been following similar stories this spring. President Sue Dick knows how hard it is to maintain a small business.

"We know to be a business owner, you have to be a warrior at heart, so we hate to hear that information," she said.

Dick said most businesses in the area are hanging on, and the owners deciding to permanently close may have already been nearing retirement or a life change before the pandemic arrived."

"We're seeing a lot of different scenarios out there, but for the most part we're seeing our local business community really market that we're open for business in a safe structure," she said.

But for the regulars facing a sad reality, optimism can be harder to find.

"There are a lot of other [businesses] of similar quality that are going to be hurt, forced to close," Zapp said.

"And when they're hurt, we will be too."