As Benton, Franklin Counties remain at a reopening standstill, some businesses are taking the risk

Kennewick Business Opens

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Non-essential business owners in Benton and Franklin counties have now been forced to keep their doors closed for almost 3 months.

Some are tired of it – tired enough to risk a fine.

“I have to pay my bills,” said a Kennewick business owner that KAPP-KVEW talked to on Tuesday who wanted to remain anonymous. She says she’s talked to fellow business owners who feel the same way.

This owner reopened her business after one month of being closed. Her store in Kennewick sells home decor, accessories and more. Not only does she sell her own items – like jewelry she hand-makes – she has ten vendors renting space from her.

“If I’m not selling for them they’re going to pull out.”

She didn’t qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program loan because she doesn’t have any employees. She hasn’t qualified for other loans either. Additionally, her other sources of income like jewelry shows and teaching jewelry classes have been put on hold.

In an effort to shield herself from possible consequences, she got creative — offering food items so they can call themselves an “essential” business.

“At first I just asked every vendor in the store to bring in a bag of groceries – you’ll see Progresso soup and cans of tuna and things scattered throughout the store in an effort to protect ourselves,” she said. “Now we have honey, popcorn and hopefully going to have some gourmet chocolates.”

Benton and Franklin counties applied to move into Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan last week. Under Phase 2, retail stores can open at partial capacity. According to the State Department of Health website, those applications are currently “on pause.”

The store owner told KAPP-KVEW the limited amount of customers that do come into her store are very happy to see the place open. She does screen customers before they walk in and also sells hand sanitizer and masks.

“I’m nervous about interference from L & I and the governor, but I also know I need to pay my bills and in order for this business to survive I have to be open.”