‘We just weren’t strong enough.’ Local business permanently closing due to COVID-19
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REXBURG – As many businesses prepare to reopen in the coming weeks, a chiropractic office in Rexburg will remain closed forever.
Chant Williams, the owner of Elevated Chiropractic & Laser Therapy, tells EastIdahoNews.com he will not be reopening his doors due to COVID-19.
“We just weren’t strong enough (and hadn’t been around long enough) to handle something like this,” Williams says.
The business closed March 21 before the stay-home order went into effect. Later, when all the students at Brigham Young University-Idaho went home, Williams says appointments dropped 80 percent.
As people started staying home, he spoke with his accountant about small business loans or other financial assistance that was available. He didn’t qualify for enough to get the company back on its feet, he says, and there wasn’t enough business to justify staying open.
“March was doing really good for us. We were having a good growth spurt, but then all this hit and it just killed everything,” he says.
Elevated Chiropractic opened in Jan. 2019 several doors down from Broulim’s. It offered laser therapy chiropractic adjustments to anyone experiencing joint pain or other types of pain due to injury. Williams also offered a reparative treatment for muscle tears.
A company in Montana offering a similar type of procedure is considering purchasing the business but whether that happens is yet to be determined.
“Hopefully we can get out of our lease if the sale doesn’t go through,” says Williams.
Being self-employed and running his own business was a fun venture, Williams says, and he’s going to miss the patients he was able to serve.
Williams says the healthcare and insurance industry is a difficult field in which to compete, and he’s looking for something more stable going forward.
“I’m working at Walmart currently and I’m just going to try and work up the ladder and get some benefits, which I’ve never had,” he says. “I’m going to try and do some side jobs — online retail and Amazon shops.”
Resilience and recovery
Despite the closure of William’s business, Rexburg Chamber President Chris Mann says he is not aware of any other permanent closures related to COVID-19. It’s definitely hurt a lot of businesses, he says, but most have banded together and been able to stay afloat.
“I’m proud that our Chamber was right on top of this from the very beginning. We started the Rexburg Strong Program, which encouraged our community to be safe, to be kind to each other and to shop local. I think that’s been helpful as people have been mindful of small businesses,” Mann says.
Students bring in a lot of “buying power” to the city, says Mann, and not having them here creates some challenges.
Mann says he’s also concerned about the pandemic’s effect on the upcoming tourist season.
“Hopefully, people will know there’s lots of open spaces and want to visit the parks and those kinds of amenities that we have,” Mann says. “As we can open up more under the Governor’s orders, we hope we can be more inviting to those people.”
We reached out to the Chamber of Commerce in Rigby and Idaho Falls to determine if there were any permanent closures in those communities. They were not aware of any.
Idaho Falls Chamber CEO Chip Schwarze says businesses are resilient, but there is a sense of uncertainty about the future.
“People aren’t sure how fast we’re going to recover. We’re opening businesses — not fast enough for some people,” says Schwarze. “I like the resilience our businesses are showing right now. They’re being creative and finding new ways to generate revenue.”
Schwarze says people are ready to get out and shop again and he feels things will be back to normal by the end of the summer. In the meantime, he says the pandemic could permanently change the way we do business in eastern Idaho.
“It might turn out to be good for us,” Schwarze says. “Some of these things we’ve started doing because of COVID-19, in the long run, could enhance our customer base and provide better service to our customers.