VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Themed props continue to sit on the shelves at Premier Events’ warehouse, a business that plans themed parties for clients.
The business told News 3 that during the last five months of the coronavirus pandemic, owners have had only two parties when they normally plan about 80 in that same span of time.
“In March I thought it was going to be something we were going to be through in a few months,” Patty Ritzi, the company’s president, said.
The reality is, the pandemic continued its party, and it is not letting others have parties. She has owned the business for 29 years.
“We’re still waiting for the phone to ring,” Ritzi said.
Right now, the theme for her is staying in business with her staff of 17 full-time employees and 50 part-time employees.
“Worst-case scenario, we'll have to scale back and will have to downsize our space,” she said. “That would be my next option."
She said there appeared to be hope when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam started his reopening phases in June, allowing for gatherings of 50 people in Phase One. By the start of July, Phase Three rolled out and brought the limit up to 250.
She said it was discouraging when Northam rolled back those phases in Hampton Roads back to 50 people later in July as the number of cases began to increase.
Premier Events qualified for money from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program and Ritzi said it helped her business for a moment. When the money ran out, she said she had to find another way to stay afloat.
“I have taken out a small business loan,” She said. “Hopefully that’s enough to carry us, at least for what’s hopefully enough to carry us through until things pick up."
She said is optimistic. She says clients have reached out to her to plan events far in the future.
“They’re looking into April through September of next year, “Ritzi said. “I have talked to some of my corporate clients who are still planning that 2021 is going to be different."
Regardless, the concern is still there.
“This is 29 years of my life,” Ritzi said. “To think of changing, and Premier not being here anymore, would be devastating to me."