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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Watch out because I have a gun’: Ice cream shop loses employee over stressful encounters with anti-maskers

Employees at The Scoop Ice Cream, with two cheery, pink-walled shops in Kendall Yards and the South Hill, have faced some tough situations this summer.

But Scoop owner Jennifer Davis said she has plenty to be grateful for. Overall, mask wearing has been great for business.

As they wear masks themselves for eight to 10 hours in a shift, they have dealt with the occasional “belligerent” customer who refuses to mask up, Davis said.

One employee quit after only a few days on the job, citing stress caused by a family who grew angry and aggressive over the mask requirement as a major factor.

And it’s not just The Scoop. Many Spokane businesses bore the brunt of unhappy customers. In Pullman, police posted to Facebook in mid-August about a customer at O-Ramen who employees said punched a manager over the mask requirement.

However, the mask mandate is working to curb infection rates in most of the state. Before the requirement, Davis said her stores had to close around July 4 as skyrocketing COVID-19 case counts in Spokane discouraged customers .

Under the mask mandate customers felt safer to come by for ice cream. Her employees could say “no masks, no service.”

“Once the mandate happened, we had a stable business,” Davis said. “It almost just made it normal.”

“There are way, way, way more considerate people than inconsiderate people,” Davis said. “I’m so proud of Spokane for stepping up to the mask mandate. I feel like 95% get it and then there’s the 3% that maybe wear it under their noses. It’s the last 2% that can just ruin it for everyone.”

That’s why she said she wasn’t surprised to learn that mask wearing has been good for the United States economy.

According to calculations from The Economist, each American wearing a mask for a day prevents a $56.14 drop in the United States GDP, which the Economist called “not bad for something that you can buy for about 50 cents apiece.”

Calculations from Goldman Sachs show that a 15% rise in the share of the population that wears masks reduces the daily growth of cases by about 1 percentage point. That, in turn, prevents the need for lockdown measures that would subtract about 5% from GDP.

“I totally get how much money the mask brings in and saves,” Davis said. “I see people of both political parties and it just gives me such a good feeling to know that we could come together. I don’t think the real world is like what you see online with people screaming ‘no masks.’”

She said she’s lucky to have people “lined up out the door” for her shops’ housemade ice cream, while many restaurants that are centered around sit-down eating struggle much more than The Scoop locations have.

She said most people who come to the shop unmasked respond well to an employee’s friendly question of “Oh, do you have your mask?”

And people have come out of the wood work with hundreds of comments in support of her business following a Facebook post she made Tuesday outlining some of her shops’ successes and struggles. Others are coming in to support the business.

“This is just a few of the crazy interactions we’ve had, and it’s sad to know this is happening all over Spokane and the country right now,” Davis wrote in the post. “August was wonderful, stressful, and just very weird in general! More on the wonderful later.”