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Tattoo shop owner still waiting for unemployment

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 18:28:05-04

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — Thousands of businesses and non-profits, big and small, are rebounding thanks to loans made available across the country.

The Payroll Protection Program, or PPP, saved jobs and companies. But as we've reported in previous stories, not everyone was able to obtain one, or qualify.

That worry stopped some local business owners, including Dexter Banks, from even applying.

The good news is that since Banks was able to reopen his Lawrenceburg tattoo shop, Ink Therapy, business has picked back up.

Clients who were forced to reschedule due to the shutdown are still coming in for their new ink.

"So we're still trying to catch up with all of those people, but we're slowly bringing in new clients, and we're booking for December right now," said Banks.

A tattoo shop owner for three years, Banks says it wasn't hard to adjust to the new cleaning standards because he already maintained a sanitized workspace.

But now, only one person is allowed inside in addition to the client. That can hurt business because showing off his work to curious onlookers sometimes brings in new clients.

"Sometimes that does hurt the business because people don't feel as comfortable, or even that extra person that comes in might want a tattoo, they'd like to see me do my work," said Banks.

As Banks was forced to close back in mid-March, he says he decided not to apply for a small business loan.

"I didn't know how fast money was going to be coming in. So I didn't want that debt over on top of my business and me stressing out about paying that as well," said Banks.

So he decided to apply for unemployment instead.

"I was hoping that the unemployment would be something that could save money up, and pay bills and things with that. But I'm still waiting for this day for unemployment," said Banks.

After weeks of phone calls and online hiccups, he finally received his card for unemployment last month. He says it came with a zero dollar balance.

Once the state started allowing in-person appointments, he drove down to Frankfort and saw an endless line.

"It was 600-plus people already waiting at 9:00 a.m., you know. So me being busy, working, I couldn't wait five, six hours. I have clients to get to. I still don't have time to wait in that line," said Banks.

Banks has gotten by, and is now busy again but says the money he's owed will make a big difference in his life and business.

"I gotta just keep focusing on my business. Keep applying to request for my payments, and hope that one day I wake up and 'here's your payment.' But the odds of that happening anytime soon are slim to none," said Banks.

Unfortunately there are many other Kentuckians in that same position, hoping for relief in a pandemic.