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Pandemic forces Milwaukee businesses to permanently close

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 18:56:45-04

MILWAUKEE — Even as the economy reopens some businesses are forced to close for good as the pandemic drags on.

"The prognosis wasn’t looking good for gatherings and gatherings in indoor spaces and it’s really at the heart of what we do," said Mariyam Nayeri, owner of Botanica Galactica.

The current emptiness in the Walkers Point space is a stark contrast from the days it was filled with markets, dance classes, and yoga.

Botanica Galactica hosted events geared toward bringing people of color together and spotlighting local vendors.

Then coronavirus forced Mariyam to make a tough call.

"We didn’t feel that it was sustainable. We had this really beautiful vision to have the community flowing through the space and being in and out of here and that just didn’t feel tenable anymore," said Mariyam.

The same day Mariyam shared the news on Facebook the owners of Ale Asylum Riverhouse on Old World Third Street announced their decision to close permanently as well, citing the difficulties of trying to operate safely in a neighborhood that relies on big events.

"It seems every day you can pick up the paper and find a restaurant or two that have closed their doors or going out of business. Those are the ones that are more obvious. It's a little harder to sort out the impact of companies, for example, that provide parts to the airline industry. That's really slowed down because of the lack of travel, and then there are nuances within," said Tim Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Sheehy says the pandemic's impact is segmented, hitting the hospitality, travel, entertainment, and dining industries the hardest.

In a survey by MMAC, under the current circumstances 85 percent of companies that responded said they remain completely viable or expect to be viable for at least the next 12 months. 8 percent said 6 to 12 months, 3 percent said 3 to 6 months, and 1 percent said 1 to 3 months.

Sheehy adds it won't be until next year when we have a better snapshot of the coronavirus impact on businesses in Milwaukee.

"I think the most important thing to focus on going forward is building consumer confidence and building employee confidence to return to the workplace. Those two things will dictate more than anything the prospects for businesses going forward," said Sheehy.

While their brick and mortar space is gone, Mariyam is looking to continue her work virtually or in outdoor spaces by working with other businesses.

"It was heartbreaking but at the same time, I know that the community and its response to all of the gatherings that we hosted here and the events that we created is still there. I believe wholeheartedly that it’s larger than this space it’s people," said Mariyam.

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