Some ‘nonessential’ businesses pleading to reopen

Businesses the governor deemed "nonessential" are pleading to reopen.

Gov. Jay Inslee first loosened the reins on golf and fishing. Now some other businesses say they can operate safely and keep their social distance, too.

The Brown Bear gas station has been open throughout the governor's stay home, stay healthy order.

But car washes have been off limits.

The Brown Bear car wash, the core business here, has been idle since late last month. That's when the governor deemed car washes "nonessential" during a pandemic. Brown Bear's chief financial officer begs to differ.

"We appreciate the fact that we want to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus," said Steve Palmer. "But at the same time we think it's important to evaluate what businesses and services in a safe manner."

With new technology, he insists Brown Bear can do just that.

"If you look at it, it's much less contact washing your car than it is getting a coffee at a drive-thru," he said.

They wrote the governor to tell him that, too. They heard back.

"We did," he said, laughing, "and they said no."

Mike Piper and his wife, Molli, think they, too, can open safely.

"We're an essential business, we feel," said Molli.

That may be. But their Illumination Learning Arts Studio is neither a school, which the governor closed, nor a day care, which he allowed to remain open.

But they feel they could reopen and keep their young charges safe.

"While we feel we're an essential business, we certainly understand the decision to shut things down the way they did," said Mike. "Now it will be how to ramp back up and do that safely once again."

With golf and other recreation opening up, they are more optimistic that their day will come sooner rather than later.

"Yes," said Molli. Mike agreed.

Both businesses are getting Small Business Administration loans to pay their staff during this shutdown.

But both say that is a temporary fix. They need to get back to work as soon as they safely can.