The Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal store in Akron, Ohio, where former Ebola patient Amber Vinson (pictured) shopped before she knew of her illness, is reportedly closing its doors for good. The owners of the 30-year-old store are pointing the finger of blame for the closing on the stigma that began when the news of Vinson’s illness hit the media, according to Cleveland.com.
After 29-year-old Vinson was diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus that has thus far taken the lives of some 8,000 victims primarily in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, the store was forced to close for 21 days by the state health department because the young Texas nurse had shopped there. Vinson contracted the virus while caring for Thomas Duncan, a Liberian national who died of the disease Oct. 8th. Vinson, who was admitted to an Atlanta hospital on October 15th, was declared free of Ebola and discharged 13 days later.
Ebola was never discovered in the store and not one Ohioan ever turned up positive with the virulent strain, but according to store co-owner Anna Younker, business never picked up steam after the scare, “Now we are the Ebola shop. Customers are tired of hearing ‘oh, you bought it at the Ebola shop.’”
The store will continue to accept orders until January 31 and then there are plans in place to liquidate all merchandise at a savings of 50 to 80 percent. Younkers says after the liquidation, she and her husband will fill orders from their home base through possibly May, telling Cleveland.com, “We just want to go out gracefully. Our customers have been great. We tried to call everyone who had an order with us before we closed. They weren’t surprised, but sad for us, they understood.”
The couple have also been faced with an undercurrent of rejection by their insurance company who refused to accept any loss claims and local banks who have repeatedly turned them down for loans, which they feel is because of their stained Ebola business image.
Vinson had put down a deposit toward merchandise at the Younkers store before the Ebola situation, and to date, Younker has not heard a word from her attorney who demanded a refund for his client last November. After Younker and her husband refused to give Vinson back her money and news of the Ebola scare hit the media, there was reportedly no more contact from Vinson’s lawyer.
What will Younker do after her business goes under?
Well, according to the retailer, the bridal biz is not in the cards, “The name and reputation we had was really valuable,” Younker said. “We have been here for 30 years, and people trusted us. To start at a different location would be starting from scratch. I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”