Amber Vinson is one of the Dallas, Texas nurses who contracted Ebola after caring for a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died of the disease. All those who cared for him were told to remain quarantined if they showed any symptoms. Before showing any of the listed symptoms, Amber Vinson flew to Ohio and visited a bridal shop, in preparation for her upcoming wedding.
Now it seems, Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal, the Akron store Amber Vinson visited, is closing its doors, following 30 years in business.
"It's not what we planned for or expected to happen," manager Kayla Litz said in a recent interview with People magazine. "The stigma really never went away. We became the Ebola store."
After receiving word that Amber Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola, bridal store owner Anna Younker closed the shop that very night, and she kept it closed for the duration of the 21-day quarantine period. In addition, she called in a professional cleaning team.
There really wasn't a need for that much caution either. Ebola is only spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And Amber Vinson was healthy the day she was in the bridal shop.
Anna Younker hoped her extreme caution would give the public--and future brides and their attendants and families--peace of mind. Sadly, it didn't.
— People magazine (@peoplemag) January 9, 2015
"After we reopened we had a massive sale," Litz explains. "It was successful. We were hoping things would turn around after that."
But the shop never recovered.
"People would call and ask, 'Is it okay to come in the store?' " Litz says. "They would just want to stand in the doorway when they needed to pick something up."
Litz says the store was counting on the insurance company to cover many of the costs from the fallout, including the cleaning of the shop. Unfortunately, they weren't covered for Ebola.
"The insurance company had a bacterial/viral clause that said they do not cover that kind of thing," Litz says. "We thought they would help us. And then that completely fell through."
The insurance company wasn't the only one who let them down either. Amber Vinson did, too.
"We really thought, 'She's going to stick by us, she'll show people everything's okay,' " Litz says.
She didn't. After recovering from Ebola, Amber Vinson sent the store a certified letter from her lawyer, that asked for a refund on the bridesmaids dresses she'd purchased that October, joining the many other women who wanted their money back from the "Ebola store."
Litz explained that Vinson wanted a refund so she--and the shop--could "avoid any further stigma."
"We wanted her business. We've never done anything to make her feel we didn't want her here. We never blamed her. And then the letter came and it was just like, wow," Litz adds. "Who thought that was okay?"
Kayla Litz announced the upcoming store closing on their Facebook page.
Prior to Amber Vinson's visit to the store, Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal had planned to expand. They had purchased a new line of tuxedos and a new line of fall dresses.
"This was not the plan," Litz says. "Closing the store was not the plan.
"The financial loss was so great," she adds. "People can't even imagine."
Amber Vinson was contacted by People magazine and ask to comment on the bridal store's closing, but has yet to reply.
Does Vinson owe this bridal store--at the very least--an apology? Surely she isn't legally liable, but should she at least acknowledge the suffering this shop owner and manager are enduring? While it still wouldn't save their business, it might take away a modicum of the insult that was issued following the initial injury.