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Local business owner eyeing bankruptcy as government shutdown continues

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PATRICK COUNTY, VA -

More than a week into the government shutdown, several business owners in Patrick County say they're feeling the effects and are hurting -- pushing one of them to the brink of bankruptcy.

It's one of the most photographed and most popular spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway -- especially this time of year -- but since the government shutdown began, it feels like Mabry Mill has lost some of its magic.

The restaurant there, which has become a dining tradition for many families, is now closed.  And the live demonstrations in and around the mill have stopped.

"It is what it is," said Leon Thiel, who is visiting from Wisconsin with his wife.  "Obviously we can't [enjoy those things] but it would have been nice to see that."

Perhaps no one is more frustrated than Karen Radcliff.

"Personally, I feel the government doesn't care at this point," said Radcliff.

Radcliff's company Sally Mays LLC has a contract with the National Park Service to operate the Mabry Mill Restaurant and all the live demos at the mill -- which means she's not allowed to run her business while NPS remains shut down.  To make matters worse, October is her busiest and most profitable month of the year.

"I'm very concerned," said Radcliff.  "I have 42 employees that use October with the overtime they receive and we pay for their nest egg.  What are they going to do this winter?  Because unemployment is not enough to live on."

She warns there could be even bigger problems on the horizon if the shutdown continues.

"If they don't open up -- I'd say by this week -- there is a good chance that Sally Mays LLC will be bankrupt."

As part of her contract with NPS, Radcliff has to pay for insurance and liability on the property whether she's open or not.  And when the government reopens, she points out she'll have to spend thousands of dollars on new food supplies, wait for those food supplies to be delivered, and likely spend a day or two getting the restaurant ready again before she could reopen.

She's not overly optimistic about her chances.

"I think they're going to keep us shut down and continue to hurt small, middle class people," said Radcliff.

But she hopes our leaders in Washington prove her wrong.

 

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