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With hundreds of conferences and events canceled, some decor businesses are struggling to survive

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 3:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans who work in the event and decor industry, which exists to bring people together, have been hit hard by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

For more than three decades, Art Services North has been decorating events around Anchorage.

“Everything from trade shows to Oscar parties,” owner of Art Services North Michael Zoske said.

The company was doing well until the pandemic hit.

“We are struggling, everything is canceled, and four days in March we lost our entire second quarter, but managed to live through the summer by furloughing the entire staff,” Zoske said.

He says it normally does up to 150 events a year. It has lost 80% of its business or about half a million dollars.

“I haven’t slept since March, it’s been frustrating, it’s been scary, this is all I’ve ever done and I’m not really geared up to get a real job so to speak-- but I also know that it will pass,” he said.

Many of his events held at the Dena’ina and Egan Convention Centers where doors are locked.

“There is about 225 conferences and meetings that have been canceled, the economic impact in the community of that we believe is over $72 million,” President of Visit Anchorage Julie Saupe said.

And with little revenue coming in, Zoske say he can’t afford to pay the rent anymore.

“Right now we are packing everything from where we have been for twenty years and putting it into storage until we can get things going again,” he said.

He says the hardest part is not knowing when large-scale events will return.

“Our events primarily had 350-700 people, I can’t think of any that were 180-200 anymore, that’s a lot of people, far jump from the 15 allowed now,” he added.

But, he’s not losing hope.

“Don’t worry, we’ll still be here.”

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