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Santa Cruz Spa struggles through pandemic, accumulating debt

Yoso Wellness Spa
Yoso Wellness Spa

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) The holiday season is typically the busiest time of year for Yoso Wellness Spa, but this year New Year's will pass with the Santa Cruz spa closed.

“We can’t put our hands on people, and that’s what we do. We touch and heal,” Yoso Wellness Spa owner Jennalee Dahlen said.

When the Bay Area region entered the latest stay-at-home order in December Spa’s like Yoso Wellness were ordered to close. The spa has been closed 24 of the last 40 weeks.

The owner of the spa, Jennalee Dahlen, says her business has accumulated more than $150,000 in debt during the pandemic.

“If I sat down and analyzed my numbers I should have closed a long time ago,” Dahlen said. "“I have friends who own businesses that closed permanently, and I just thought I can’t do it. I’m not closing permanently. There’s too much heart in this.”

The new COVID relief package, signed by President Trump over the weekend, will include $284 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses.

Dahlen says whatever amount comes her way will help, but she can’t afford to take on any more loans. Dahlen says she’s maxed out credit cards and has applied for 15 grants she’s never gotten, which is a reality for many small businesses.

“A lot of this stuff is cushioned where it looks more appealing than what as the business owner you actually get,” Dahlen said.

Despite the mounting debt and no income for Dahlen, she found a bold way to pivot opening Yoso the Annex. The retail shop that sells self care products people can take home opened in November in Downtown Santa Cruz.

“I decided 'alright COVID I’m going to show you who’s boss' and opened a retail shop across the street,” Dahlen said.

The next few months are a mystery for this spa, and other small businesses like it across the country, but Jennalee doesn’t regret a thing.

“I’m so honored to be a business owner, because so many have not been able to survive this,” Dahlen said.

Yoso the Annex is open during the stay-at-home order, and Yoso Wellness Spa plans to reopen when the order is lifted.

831 Local Links shows you which local businesses are open on the Central Coast.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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