Snoqualmie business announces closure, says financial risk, COVID-19 capacity and safety rules make reopening not feasible

After being closed since March 17th when Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions went into place for salons, Snoqualmie business Lula Ruby announced it had made the tough decision to close its doors permanently.

Lula Ruby opened in December 2012 in the retail area on Better Way Loop, across from the Snoqualmie Fire Station.

According to the closure announcement to clients:

“As we approach the June 1st possible reopen date we must sadly accept the reality that we will be unable to reopen. We are deeply saddened to share this news and hope you understand that it has been a hard and painful decision that is largely out of our control.”

Lula Ruby owner and Snoqualmie resident Angela Favero noted two main reasons for closing: 1) the health, safety and well being of staff, clients and families and 2) the potential financial impact.

Lula Ruby owner Angela Favero

Although Washington state has yet to issue reopening safety protocols for salons, Angela spent time researching such guidelines in other states. She said after doing so it became clear it would be difficult to safely reopen.

Those salon safety rules include: social distance for staff and clients; working scattered schedules to limit number of people at any one time in the salon; no double booking/one client at a time; limited shampooing and blow-drying; temperature checks for clients and staff; contact tracing for staff and clients; mandatory face masks and face shields; no clients waiting in the lobby.

Angela commented, “How do we even start to safely go back to work?  First, we touch people all day long. There will be no amount of PPE protection that will keep us safe.  We must gear up like hospital staff.  Who will we need to pay to get PPE, cleaning supplies, etc.  I can’t even get the right amount of cleaning supplies for my home, let alone a business during these times.”

She explained the new regulations would inevitably mean working at a deficit, citing industry expert predictions that salons will only be able to operate at a 20-50% workload compared to pre-COVID numbers.

Angela said, “With no change in the cost of business, this makes no financial sense. We would be asking both employees and myself to take a huge pay cut.”

Lula Ruby was unable to secure a PPP loan, but Angela said she’s not sure she would’ve taken it at this point – noting the complex rules of the potentially forgivable loan making the risk of default too high for her business model.

She commented, “What if we cannot go back to work in 8 weeks? That free money now is a loan that I must pay back, putting me in even more financial jeopardy.  My staff may not come back since they are all making much more money on unemployment right now.”

She said it is her belief that the PPP ‘loan’ is the federal government’s way to keep people off unemployment, “period.” She also noted the amount of money her business has already paid in unemployment taxes that currently allows her staff to draw unemployment.

Favero said unlike restaurants and small stores, salons have had no opportunity to make money during the two-month closure – and she’s gotten no relief from her landlord.

She commented, “We have been very communicative and transparent with our landlord about the effects that the closure has had on us. We have been told they will not release us from the lease and full amount of back rent will be due upon reopening.”

Angela doesn’t see any way to pay back that [rent] debt, currently over $10,000, when only operating at half capacity.

The final ‘nail in the coffin,’ though, was when the salon’s Business Interruption insurance claim was denied.

Angela sees no viable path to success for her small business at this point – and doesn’t feel there is any benefit in putting herself at more financial risk. Lula Ruby would need a loan just to get back up and running and there’s also risk of another [COVID] shutdown in the fall.

She commented, “It doesn’t make any sense…This is a very unfortunate time for all.  We have spent time helping our staff navigate through this and fully support them in their next venture.”

Angela wanted to share her story to help the community better understand how devastating the the stay home order has been on local small businesses.

Good Luck Angela – and the whole Lula Ruby stylist crew. Wishing you all the best.

Comments

  1. So if I shout, “Fire!” in a theater when there is no fire, I go to jail if someone gets hurt, but if the media and government shout, “Pandemic!” over a virus with a 0.2% true mortality rate, which only kills people with serious comorbidity who would also die from the flu or common cold, it’s all good?

    Sue them, Angela. Sue them for destroying your livelihood and the lives of your employees. Bankrupt them. Please. Make their lives the hell you have been going through.

    • Donna valdez says

      Whose lives do you think you are making hell if the state is bankrupt, Bob? The government is not some “entity” with unlimited resources – it is more like a “group” piggy bank that provides the services you use on a daily basis. A pandemic is like a tree falling on you. It’s an act of God no one can be held responsible for. Those landlords are shortsighted. They probably own that real estate free and clear, and property was cheap back when it was sold. That’s why the let the little unit next to dominoes sit empty for 4 yrs. How about house call appts in backyards – with people coming out with their hair wet and washed? There is a great need in the “new normal.” I would like it. With no overhead, probably make more money than you did too. Maybe fliers notifying a street for their area this week – call for appts. ??

    • Thanks for your constructive contribution to civil conversation Bob.
      “0.2% true mortality rate, which only kills people with serious comorbidity who would also die from the flu or common cold, it’s all good?“
      Two objective untruths in one one sentence.
      Numerous respected reliable sources reveal otherwise-
      Johns Hopkins-
      https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality
      Also, yes there are known comorbitities and yet a meaningful percentage of Covid19 deaths occur outside those risk factors. ie- NOT ONLY
      “Sue them, Angela. Sue them for destroying your livelihood and the lives of your employees. Bankrupt them. Please. Make their lives the hell you have been going through.”
      Yes Angela could sue the State of WA. Bankrupt them? Somehow that would be good for WA residents? Keep in mind Angela also faces potential liability for exposure of employees and customers to Coronavirus. I’ll assume your against that. Something tells me in your imaginary world Governments ought to be fully liable but “job creators” protected.
      It’s a complicated problem Bob, and we’re all in this together.
      Sadly even you.

    • Hi Bobb, the fear level created is far worse then I ever dreamed possible. I am sure you can attest. The social engineering being done by the powers will have a far greater detrimental impact then the virus itself. Just over 1,000 deats in 6 monts vs 7.6 million residents. Facts do not matter when the pipulation is suffeciently scared. Shame on the powers that usurp our freedom and worse on those who scare so easily and ruin lives in the process.

    • To Bob and anyone that agrees with him: don’t be a mark for cons like Trump and his goons. They are not reputable sources of information.
      The truth isn’t hard to find.
      Here is some very recent info on the actually mortality rate.
      https://www.washington.edu/news/2020/05/18/covid-19-uw-study-reports-staggering-death-rate-in-us-among-those-infected-who-show-symptoms/

      • Carla Brown says

        I would draw your attention to this report that 63% of King County cases are in and connected to nursing homes. https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/washington-state-king-pierce-county-covid-19-coronavirus-long-term-care-facilities-infection-rates/281-ee44603e-6cea-4887-92c3-3885587204a3
        This lockdown is not the answer – open the state, provide appropriately for nursing care facilities.
        The garbage data that Inslee is putting out gives no context and is meant to prop up his indefensible slow walk on this process. For example one metric was that he had over 72 million N95 masks on backorder (from China) while we have millions already on hand but because we didn’t have this ridiculous huge number of masks sitting in a warehouse we weren’t prepared to open. Why would a state of 7 million people need 72 million more masks. There was no context though I did learn from my dentist office that they aren’t allowed to have the N95 masks only hospitals get those.

        He is killing people by fear mongering, keeping doctors and dentists offices closed down for 2 months. Destroying our healthcare network.

        In WA state 80% of deaths occurred in people age 70+ and 55% were age 80+ while that age group was only 10 of the positive cases. I would hazard a guess that 100% of the deaths were people with underlying health conditions beyond just their age.
        We stay stuck on stupid in this state with these idiot politicians.

  2. this is bull s***…. her land lord should be ashamed

    • The “landlord” is also a company dealing with the same issues that their tenants are dealing with. Sadly, we will see many, many empty shops and lost livelihoods because of the extended lockdown. Commercial real estate will be as hard hit as our mom and pop shops.

      • What’s better for the landlord? An empty location with zero revenue? Or a partial revenue stream that will continue? How likely is it that the landlord will fill that location in the next 6 months? The next 12? Personally, I think the landlord is being short sighted and dumb. Trading a paying tenant for an empty location with zero revenue.

  3. Can house calls be arranged? Angela has served her customers well and deserves only the best in this next chapter for her. Enjoy the peaceful beauty that surrounds us all!

  4. I’m so sad Angela! You and your staff (Kim!) are amazing and my heart breaks for your loss and our community!

  5. Elena Montgomery says

    My heart breaks for you Angela and your whole staff. You were able to provide an irreplaceable niche in our community providing healthy hair products and top of the line service and ambiance. Needless to say, the landlord could have helped. Needless to say, the people that that put together the re-entry procedure knew nothing and cared nothing about running a
    salon. Needless to say and hopefully, you will own another salon that will be even better than the one that you wisely decided to shut down. Hugs and love to all of you!

  6. Carla Brown says

    Angela thank you for sharing your story as you are speaking for so many small business owner/operators. I have been working with small businesses for years and know what a fine line you walk in regular times – this time is no fault of yours and you have made a very tough decision.
    You still have things to work through and maybe some options to reset your business especially in light of still dealing with a lease on space. Closing the door on what can no longer work could be a time to reimagine what’s next.
    We all are making our own story as we go you have much to share still.
    To your success in a new chapter of your story.

  7. Scott Charles says

    Bob is the mark? Yet you quote a “revised-estimate” of the source who was so far off on their original model that they were internationally humiliated? (Nice try).
    As far as Trump? He’s now also listed amongst the fools for not re-opening as soon as UW’s phony model was exposed. What an embarrassment for the state of Washington, (UW Model & Inslee’s dogged following of it to this day). Come on Chris, get off the politics. Both sides stink on this one, and your reference to the UW isn’t helping your case one bit. Find a credible source, their credibility is guttered out this crisis, end of argument.

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