Small businesses taking it slow after Zion National Park reopening

May 13, 2020, 5:15 PM
small businesses Zion National Park...
Business owners near Zion National Park are cautiously optimistic tourists will return following the park's reopening Wednesday. Receipts have been down by 90% or more for most places since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the park. (Photo: Hoodoos General Store website)
(Photo: Hoodoos General Store website)

SPRINGDALE, Utah – Julie Gregoric owns Sol Foods Supermarket and Hoodoos General Store in Springdale, Utah. Business has been down about 90% since the COVID-19 pandemic forced Zion National Park to close

Another tough reality for Gregoric has been laying off her staff. 

Still, she has mixed emotions about Zion reopening. 

“If the visitors don’t return, our businesses will not survive. If visitors do return, our county will see a spike in [COVID-19] cases. I certainly don’t want to go out of business, but I don’t want anybody getting sick,” Gregoric says. 

That’s why she and other businesses in the area are taking it slow and not expecting a rush of customers. 

Small business safety measures

Like many others, Gregoric’s stores have already introduced safety measures, such as requiring employees to wear masks and making sure everything has been properly sanitized. 

Despite some reservations, Gregoric has a hopeful outlook about Wednesday’s reopening of Zion National Park. 

“I’m kind of optimistic that it will go as smoothly as it can,” Gregoric says. 

Stan Smith is the mayor of Springdale and also owns the Bumbleberry Inn. 

Smith says the city has taken a $500,000 hit to its budget since Zion closed, money it does not expect to recoup this year. Springdale’s total budget is $6 million, meaning they will most likely dip into their reserves to get them through.  

“One of the things that the town will be missing out on this year is international travel, which is a huge market for us,” Smith says.

Paycheck Protection helped, but just a little

Smith, like many business owners in town, got a Paycheck Protection Program federal loan, which has helped him keep his staff. 

But business at the Bumbleberry Inn was still down over 99% in April from last year. 

Despite all this, there is reason to be optimistic. 

“Last Sunday at my place, I had one more reservation than a cancellation. That was the first time in two months that that had happened,” Smith says.  

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Small businesses taking it slow after Zion National Park reopening