When Governor Newsom declared a statewide state of emergency, he also decreed that all non-essential stores be closed. It meant many stores across California were shuttered for the foreseeable future. From beauty salons and barbershops to theaters, and hundreds of other businesses, all were closed with no hope of being opened for the time being.
What began with a simple statement of a social media page, “Coalinga Citizens,” ended up with a store reopening and most employees returning to work.
Omar Lopez, manager of Coalinga’s Big 5 Sporting Goods on Polk Street, said he got a message from an employee who told him that some guy named Adam was looking for him on social media. In barely any time at all, Coalinga councilman Adam Adkisson was contacted by Lopez who asked what Adkisson needed.
Adkisson explained that many residents believed the store to be essential, and asked if there was anything he or anyone else could do to help the store re-open. Some residents reported that they needed the store because there are items such as steel toed boots they purchase locally at that store. Other residents expressed other items they routinely purchase from the store, and did not want to have to leave town in order to get them.
“We messaged back and forth for a bit and talked about reopening,” said Adkisson. “Eventually he said he needed a letter on City letterhead that said they were essential. I talked to Marissa and asked her if she could send it, and she did.”
Lopez explained that it was a corporate decision and that the company was systematically going through counties to study those specific guidelines to see which stores could reopen and which could not. There are many counties and stores to research, and it might take some time to arrive at that moment.
Lopez came up with a solution, however. He suggested that if Adkisson could obtain a letter from Marissa Trejo, Coalinga’s city manager, that he could then send that to corporate headquarters and possibly have permission to reopen.
Adkisson requested a letter from Trejo who quickly provided the statement a requested by Lopez. By the next day, Big 5 was once again open for business. Lopez said for the most part his employees are happy to back at work. He gave his team the option of self-quarantining if they wanted. But with only two or three exceptions, the employees are back at work.
“Big 5 in Coalinga would probably have opened in a week or so,” said Lopez, but we’re happy to be open now.”