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‘No reason we shouldn’t be open’: Local business owners push back on 'hunker down' order

(KTUU)
(KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 10:18 PM AKDT
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The owners of a family business in Anchorage said they feel they should be allowed to be open, and are pushing back on the mayor's decision to extend the "hunker down" order through May 5.

Jody and Troy Arnold, who own B & J Sporting Goods in Midtown Anchorage, said Wednesday the new normal for their business has been difficult. They’ve been unable to open their store since the city has deemed it unessential, and it could be a while until they reopen after Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on Tuesday extended the city's "hunker down" order.

The owners of the sporting goods store said they feel they should be able to open for business since they provide necessary equipment for commercial fisherman.

"We should be on the essential, critical services list, since we do have a store for the fishing industry,” Jody explained inside her empty store.

“We have personal protective equipment, and there is no reason we shouldn't be open."

The two said they reached out to the municipality, and shared with officials their plans on how the business could reopen safely. According to Jody, the couple never received a response.

"We've asked code enforcement, we've asked the mayor, we asked the assembly, 'Why we can't be open?' with no answer,” Jody said.

On Wednesday, Berkowitz explained his decision to extend the "hunker down" order, and said it was being guided by what the health experts advise.

"I am a part of small business, I know people who are in the small business community, I know people who have lost their jobs,” Berkowitz said in a weekly press conference. “This is an intensely personal experience for all of us."

The decision to close all non-essential businesses comes during the busiest time of year for B & J’s Sporting Goods, which usually outfits commercial fisherman at the store before they head to places such as Dutch Harbor for the big haul. The store also provides equipment and gear to many local sport fishermen.

The Arnolds have been able to fulfill online orders, and said they estimate they’ve thus far lost $50,000 to $60,000 in revenue since they are unable to open their Midtown location. They’ve also had to lay off six of their employees.

The couple said it has applied for loans through the federal government.

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