Small businesses bounce back as Michigan prepares to lift major COVID restrictions

COVID restrictions to be lifted Tuesday

How Metro Detroit small businesses are slowly getting back on their feet

FERNDALE, Mich. – In terms of the post COVID economy for small businesses, you could consider bridal salons and dress shops among those most hurt.

Many of those businesses are bouncing back after a tough year caused by the pandemic.

Even weddings are making a swift and strong comeback and in the nick of time.  

This is what the American Dream looks like. Iris of Ferndale Fashions, one woman, a talent, perseverance and good luck. 

Linda Awatim fled Iraq in the 70s because as an Iraqi Christian or Chaldean she was persecuted for her religious beliefs. Building a bridal salon and dress shop in Ferndale allowed her to survive and thrive.

In an average prom season she sold a minimum of 200 off the rack and custom dresses. 

“I used to have customers standing outside just to get into the store,” said Awatim. But then COVID struck.

“COVID killed everything, nothing we could do,” said Christina Salem, Awatim’s daughter.

Awatim said she cried everyday just to get business.

The only reason she believes she survived was because she owned her own building and couldn’t be evicted.

But in April schools announced they would knit together plans for proms and brides started to plan weddings again.

The business is coming back, perhaps not with a roar, but certainly with a rumble.

The same story goes for ReaShawn Bumphers of Pink Poodle Dress Shop in Detroit.  

“So the brides from last year that moved their weddings to this year, we’re doing their alterations on top of brides that planned it for 2021 as well as prom. Prom happened so fast. It was kind of the last minute, they told them they were having prom, so the girls started running in the doors,” said ReaShawn.

Michigan is lifting all of its COVID restrictions for capacity, masks and gatherings Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week.

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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.