Yesterday, 5/20/2020, was the start of the CAAPSorg sponsored open for business movement in which CAAPS and the Facebook group PA Small Business Connection asked any business owners that wanted to be open for business to join together and do so in direct defiance of Governors shut down orders. This movement was inspired by the intent of Giovanni’s Barber Shop owner Nichole Missino starting to open her business on May 8th but then backing away when some bullies from the state came and threatened her. Though the Media Borough Police Chief denies threatening her and there was no response from the health department when asked about the alleged threats, we are told there is pending litigation over those threats at this time.
Following those ‘conversations’ Nichole was under the impression that those agencies would storm her place of business, rip her licenses of the wall, chain her doors and cart her off to jail if she opened. After obtaining further counsel from multiple places, including us, about procedure and due process, she realized that the ‘conversations’ were the typical type of confrontations bullies use to control and oppress their victims. Still having the pressing need to open for the sake of saving her business, and helping her employees eat, she made the decision to commit to open during the proposed Open For Business event. She took charge and helped lead the event which also convinced others to come forward and open as well.
The day of the event got here, and we were disappointed to find out that multiple businesses had agreed to take part in the event but were going to do it low key, as in not even telling anyone that they were going to do it. While we thought, ‘great, at least they are opening’, it also kind of defeated the purpose of the movement. The purpose of the movement was that if everyone opened together, then no single few would be hung out in front as targets, and the more that opened would send a clearer message that would result in non enforcement of the shut down orders for all. As in the history of our organization we were left to work with what we have to work with, which is always the case.
The success is that Nichole Missino of Giovanni’s Barber Shop in Media and Danielle Strano of Wicked Cutz in Havertown stepped up to the plate and pulled the bandaid off. They really had no choice. While they are true heroes fighting for the rights of everybody, they also were both in situations where if they did not open, they were facing serious consequences of losing their businesses, their places to live, and not eating. There are hardly any landlords telling their tenants they don’t have to pay their rent, and in the case of Danielle, because her business was so new, less than a year, she does not qualify for any of the state aid, and doesn’t have a history with her landlord. Because these business owners took the leap of faith, they got air time on major news programs, that has led to their phones ringing off the hook and booked appointments for upcoming weeks. That is a great thing, and something all the businesses that flew under the radar or refused to open missed.
One of the things that we as an organization had been doing in preparation of the opening was contacting District Attorneys and asking them to consider not enforcing or prosecuting the shut down orders. We consider it an even greater success that the Delaware County DA, which had been on the fence about announcing whether he would cite businesses and enforce shutdowns announced to ABC news that he would not cite businesses that opened or take steps to force the shut down. Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer, you have earned our gratitude for standing up to your oath to uphold the Constitution and you are just as much a hero as these business owners.
The struggle of this success story is not over though. Although, the phones are ringing and the barbers are busy, there is still work to be done. These business owners desperately need other businesses that want to open, to step forward and and join them. They will be staying open going forward, however they are sitting targets for state officials unless other business owners step in and join the movement. Wicked Cutz, owner Danielle Strano says she needs some help so any barbers that would like to come out an work give her a call or stop by. As for Nichole, she received a visit from an investigator from the state department today. He made it s point to state that he was there because someone used the snitch line and reported her business as being open, not because everyone saw it all over the news. Guess there are still some cowards out in society that have nothing better to do than make it their business to cause trouble for people by using snitch lines. Perhaps Wolf was referring to just that person that did this. The investigator noted all of the safety precautions that Nichole had put in place and he made it part of the report.
We believe that the Department of State should recognize that these business owners are going over the top in their safety measures, and hope they will choose not to make an issue, or try to make an example out of people that are just trying to live their lives safely. At the same time, we are preparing, if necessary, for a legal battle. It will not be a quiet one.
If you are a business owner that wants to open, please open your doors in support. Nichole’s gofundme page is still active and she says that although she is busy she is also concerned that their may be legal expenses to contend with. https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-giovannis-during-this-time
These business owners put themselves out there not only for survival, but to make a stand for all of us. Let’s give them all the support they need.
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