‘Heartbroken’ owner of 42-year-old Oregon District business appeals for help to stay afloat in age of coronavirus

“It is pretty humbling to have to ask,” owner says.

One of the Oregon District’s oldest businesses is appealing for help from its customers.

A post on the Feathers Vintage Clothing Facebook page reads:

“I am heartbroken that after 42 years my business is uncertain. I would be forever grateful for any donations to help me pay my landlord and keep me open for another 42 years. Any donation would be gratefully appreciated. My PayPal account is Afishlips@aol.com .Thank you for your support stay healthy love always feathers.”

Janet Phillips, an Oregon District resident and matriarch of Fifth Street, started selling treasures from days long gone at Feathers Vintage Clothing's original site in April of 1978.

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It has been at its current location, 440 E. Fifth St., since 1981 or 1982.

Reached by phone, Phillips, who runs the business with her son, Aaron, said she posted the message to Facebook our of sheer desperation.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Reading projections about how long the virus will pose a threat intensified her fears.

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“I felt embarrassed and horrible that I had to post that. To see 42 years go down the drain. To not know if I could come back,” she said. “I feel lucky I have a roof over my head. There are a lot of people in worse shape than me. It is pretty humbling to have to ask.”

She says she does not qualify for unemployment and does not meet the requirements for government loans because she does not employ enough people.

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She said her margins have always been tight, but she has managed to get by.

“I was totally unprepared for this,” Phillips said, adding that many small business owners are in the same situation.

Like most, Phillips says would like to see the economy reopened, but not until medical officials deem it safe to do so.

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The shop closed March 16 as state orders concerning the virus continued to ramp up. Phillips said she has only managed to sell a few hundred dollars worth of merchandise, far less than what’s needed to pay her monthly expenses and keep the shop’s doors open.

“So many people are hurting and I have a store full of stuff that people don’t need,” she said.

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Phillips said she has been amazed by the outpouring of support she has received thus far. She said she is grateful.

“I don’t want to have a pity party,” Phillips said. “We are in this together.”

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