The owner of a "beloved" music store in Hastings, Michigan, had an emotional message for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after he was forced to permanently close his shop as a result of coronavirus-related lockdowns in the state.
What are the details?
In an interview with WXMI-TV last week, Steve Walker said that the governor's stay-at-home order, which was put into effect on March 24, was the move that sunk his business. While other surrounding businesses were allowed to continue operating, Walker Music & Textile Company was deemed "non-essential" and forced to shut down.
"I've been sitting here for 60 days watching my neighbors do business day in and day out," Walker said. "They aren't thriving but they are surviving. There's no reason in hell I couldn't have done the same thing. None. And that's what makes me angry."
Walker told the local station that he tried to save his business by calling the unemployment office and applying for grants through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, but each time was either ignored or denied.
"There was only $32,800 grants for Barry County in total," he said. "Of that $32,800, five businesses were the recipient of that money."
Either way, Walker argued, government assistance would have only been a temporary fix as the stay-at-home order continued on for weeks and bills kept piling up.
"I don't want a stupid handout from the government, I want my hands untied so I can work," Walker said.
Beloved music store in Hastings closing due to the pandemic youtu.be
Not just his business, but his dream
Walker, who has run the store for 11 years with his family, including his wife, Nancy, and his son, Mike, said the store was not just his business, but his dream.
"This is my dream. Shutting it down. Closing out this phase of my life," he said while bursting into tears during the interview. "It won't be a retail shop anymore and it won't be an inviting environment for kids to come and be loved and to learn music."
The Walkers announced the official closing of the store on Sunday, May 2, and now they are phasing out the supply of instruments.
Walker desperately wishes that he didn't have to close up shop, however, and places the blame squarely on Whitmer.
"I put the responsibility of that on the governor's shoulders because if she had been reasonable, this would not be happening," he said. "But oh well. That's the way it is. That's life. And, I have to move on and deal with it."
Whitmer has been in hot water since the start of the outbreak with many Michigan residents who view her lockdown orders as draconian and unnecessary. Several sheriffs in the state have vowed not to enforce her orders and the state's legislature even voted to limit her disaster powers.
Just recently, a judge ruled in favor of a 77-year-old barbershop owner who opened his store in defiance of Whitmer's order. The Whitmer administration had previously requested that the judge sign a temporary restraining order against the owner.