“If I didn’t reopen, our business would not have a prayer. Come June 1, my business would be closed for good.
“I reopened my store, RC Outfitters [running shoes and apparel], on May 4.
“The people who are coming in are extremely grateful. What you see is there are plenty of people who think, ‘We should be able to decide for ourselves.’ As an adult, I’m allowed to decide what risks I want to incur and what I don’t. These are basic civil liberties. I would like choice. I’d like to be able to decide for myself.
“Every customer who walks into the store clearly articulates excitement and gratitude that we’re taking the position we have [reopening and suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker], because they have had enough and they want their civil liberties back.
“The pressures behind the scene are more than a lot of people can understand.
“I sell soft goods, and my products are devaluing every day. I need to make margin percentages and margin dollars to cover my bases. What about my payables to vendors? Vendors have the same pressures we do. They can’t just keep extending 30 days again and again. So what happens when I go past due? If I fall past due, I can’t get new product. And if I use my PPP dollars to pay for inventory, now all I’ve done is pile on another loan. I could keep going and going on the mounting pressures on any small business owner right now just to survive. A lot of people, through no fault of their own, don’t understand.
“To the person who doesn’t understand survival as a small business, guess what happens if I close? I have a personal guarantee on everything in this store. I would go bankrupt, period.
“I have over 30 employees. I’m blessed to have these men and women on my team, and they would lose their jobs if we close. That’s a tough spot for a business owner to be in.
“The governor’s shelter-in-place order is very discriminatory. Why can Bass Pro Shop, Target and others sell shoes, socks and apparel? Somehow, they’re essential, but I’m not. What’s the logic behind a big box store like Lowe’s, Menard’s, Walmart and Target being open but not us? Why is that a safe environment and why is a small business that operates at a fraction of a capacity not a safe environment?
“Why do people think the ability to do curbside service is some giant gift from our benevolent governor? That’s a joke.
“Certainly, there’s a voice of discontent with my decision. There always is.
“Going into this, did I know all too well that there would be a percentage of the population in my area that would find the steps I have taken to be distasteful, irresponsible, and subsequently they will boycott me? Absolutely. Any time someone takes a stand in a situation like this, that has political ramifications … said business runs the risk of alienating a percentage of their potential consumer base.
“Some people have been very vocal about their displeasure. There have been some harsh and nasty things said about me online, to my personal email, my personal cell. Did I know that was probably going to happen? Yes. I can’t have fear. I can’t not stand up to have the courage to do what I believe is necessary for the survival of my business, and for what I believe is right.
“There have been more people than less in my community who believe the same things I believe and have supported us. It’s a calculated risk. So far it appears my community overwhelmingly supports the position and the stand that we have taken.
“I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m a marathoner, so I’m experienced at mile 22 when body and brain hurt. You just have to be able to take another step.”
Owner, RC Outfitters