It is possible to come across special people on Gyumri’s historical Shiraz street, where business owners were fighting to make investments in stores, restaurants, fast food restaurants, hotels, and guest houses before the coronavirus pandemic. It seems as though the street, which sometimes is full of tourists, is deserted and breathless.
A large cosmetics and perfume store opened on this street in December. They sell products from several brands at this store. In an interview with Aravot Daily, one of the owners of the store, Lilit Khachatryan, said that their profits have decreased by 80 percent as a result of the coronavirus. There are even days when the store does not have any customers.
“This mass closure of stores came as a surprise to us. It had a bad effect on all of us, but we eventually got used to this situation. We began to adapt and come up with solutions because life is a struggle. We are trying to fight so we can justify ourselves. Our business should have been flourishing right now, but instead, we are not moving forward for obvious reasons. Of course, we are not allowing ourselves to feel discouraged. We are maintaining our optimism. We hope that we will be able to get back on track by the end of the year. But if this situation continues, we will have a severe economic crisis that we won’t be able to get out of. We hope that our country will do everything possible to get us out of this situation. The longer this continues, the more difficult it becomes to get out of this situation. If, God forbid, it continues, people will not be able to get out of it on their own. A large force will be needed to help people. Otherwise, as I said, the consequences will be terrible,” Khachatryan said.
Lilit Khachatryan said that they have not laid anyone off. They have tried to keep their employees on their own because work is not a form of enjoyment, but instead a way to make money for their daily bread. “Even if we had to suffer ourselves in some way, we tried to maintain our employees and provide them with a salary. We approached this issue humanely because life is very difficult. We all are struggling to survive.”
Lilit Khachatryan also said that the government also provided the employees with benefits, but it was very little. “That did not help at all. People could only live for a few days off that money, not months,” she said.
“Gyumri should have been able to host tourists at this time. We know that the residents of Gyumri are unable to pay as much as people from Yerevan, diasporan Armenians, and foreign tourists are. We suffered a great loss; our profits decreased by 80 percent. That is the worst part- every day we lost had a negative effect on our business. We notice how much we’ve regressed by the end of the month. We obviously feel the need for government aid. I don’t want to complain, but we are a new business and we are young. We don’t want to leave Armenia, so we are trying to do what we can within our country. I do not think that it is right to not receive some help from the government. I think that people who are just starting out need some kind of push so that they do not regress. We need support. We created all of this on our own without anyone’s help. It would be nice to have some support,” Lilit Khachatryan said.