“Pet grooming can be a very good career. You can make a nice living wage; you can own a home. I know, because I’ve done it myself.

“Before the health crisis, we were growing at such a rapid pace and scale that we were looking to expand either our space or to a second location this year. Now with the coronavirus, everything has come to a screeching halt.

“I’m fortunate. I’ve been in business for a very long time. I started my own business when I was 21. We have really good, loyal clients and we do think people will come [back] as soon as we open our doors. The problem is this: we fall in that luxury category where people need to pick paying their gas, electric or food bill over getting a pet groomed.

“My main concern is the health and safety of my employees. I employ nine other people, and we were growing that number. Most of these people are in their young 20s or 30s, and they’re just kind of starting out and finding their ways, buying homes of their own or trying to buy cars. A lot of these employees haven’t really been through hard times like this. There’s some panic in their eyes.

“I do think it was great that the governor extended the tax date. That was a big thing a lot of people were talking about. As a small business owner, the taxes and the rate of labor is pushing us. It’s hard for small businesses to keep up with that in a good economy.

“But there are no incentives for you to take people under your wing and give someone a career. I think the state should give better incentives to small businesses to be able to provide better benefits so we can retain people in our industry as well.

“I don’t like the idea of progressive taxes. Unfortunately, I think they’re going to start at the top of the spectrum. But what happens is they start there and then they come down and down, and then they chase people out of Illinois. Well, someone’s going to be left with the bill.

“Thankfully, for myself, I’m a fighter. Even if I lose everything, I’ll fight through this thing no matter what and get out there to find my way back. Some people don’t have that, and those are the people we have to really help and pull them up and tell them it’s going to be OK, even if we don’t know it’s going to be OK.”

Samantha Palya
Owner, Absolutely Pawfect Pet Stylings
Palos Hills, Illinois