Hey, remember Ebola? American media panic magically disappeared as soon as the midterm elections were over, but the aftermath of Ebola: America! continues in the case of Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who contracted and survived the virus.
Vinson had been treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola on American soil, when she was exposed to the virus. Unaware that these nightmare germs were incubating in her system, she boarded a plane (with permission from the CDC) to Cleveland, where she was planning her wedding. CDC permission or not, getting on an airplane after you've spent considerable time around someone with Ebola is arguably not cool, but hey — it's a wedding planning weekend, and we know that fuckery comes before all else, including caution or common sense.
When Amber's diagnosis was confirmed, Coming Attractions, the Akron bridal store visited by Amber and her bridesmaids during that fateful weekend, voluntarily shut its doors for a 21-day quarantine. Unfortunately, a different kind of quarantine continued long after that, because Coming Attractions' customers never came back. And now the store is going out of business. The owner, Anna Younker, made the announcement on Facebook:
"I am sad to announce that Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal is being forced to wind down its operations after thirty years of service due to the devastating effect that recent events have had on our business. Despite our best efforts, we simply have been unable to recover."
In an interview, Younker summed it up quite succinctly: "Now we are the Ebola shop. Customers are tired of hearing 'oh, you bought it at the Ebola shop.'" Oof.
This turn of events is incredibly unfair to Younker and her business but...yeah, you can see why people might avoid the store. Even if a customer knows the place is perfectly safe (and it is; there were no traces of Ebola in the store), the association is unpleasant enough to make shoppers steer clear. And any unhappy thoughts associated with the details of one's wedding garb must be avoided at all costs, obviously.
(Which is probably why Vinson had the nerve to later ask the store for a refund.)
This post-Vinson wreckage is exactly what Younker was worried about, which she expressed to Cleveland.com during the store's reopening last November:
She said several customers asked for refunds for dresses already purchased, including one for $2,000. Another said family members told her they would be afraid to hug her if she wore the dress she bought at the store. Younker said others called in asking if someone died of Ebola inside the store.
Younker said she checked with both the Center for Disease Control and Summit County Public Health, who advised her she didn't need to close the store. She decided to close and wait out the 21-day period after employees said they were uneasy.
"There's so much emotion in this business," Younker said.
Younker worries that the stigma attached to the store will hurt future business.
That, folks, is the power of a misinformed public. Nightmares become reality.
Worse, there's not really anything Younker can do about it. Vinson shopped at the store; it's not as if Younker can erase that fact. She considered changing the shop's name or location, but it's not financially possible: Their insurance company won't accept any claims for this mess. Banks, meanwhile, have continually turned down loan applications because of the store's "image problem."
As for Vinson, I don't think she's going to get that refund.