LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Social distancing orders driven by the global COVID-19 crisis have had devastating effects on small businesses throughout Southern California. However, the change in social interaction has also brought toughing gestures of generosity to the forefront.

Travis Escalante, owner of American Mattress in Ventura, is one of the many small businesses that has taken a hit from the lack of business.

“We are completely shut down,” he said. “I have no way of making an income.”

Escalante has owned the mattress store for 25 years and has spent his time on the phone with creditors lately.

“We are still able to pay the few bulls that we have, but a month from now when there’s no income, how are we going to pay?”

As worried as he is about the future of his business, Escalante is far more worried about the overworked staff at two nearby hospitals as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Southern California.

“There are doctors and nurses needing places to sleep. We are looking toward an influx of getting really bad within the next one to four weeks with a flood of nowhere for these people to sleep or rest,” Escalante said.

The mattress store owner has offered to help during this crisis.

“Doctors and nurses of Ventura County, we know you guys are doing so much hard work and you have nowhere comfortable to sleep right now. We are making our store available for you. We have beds for you,” he said.

Escalante has been planning out how to set up dividers for privacy and social distancing. He has also secured a space out back he plans to clear to make space for portable showers and toilets.

“I actually have a friend of mine who is willing to do some food prep and service…a restaurant right down the street,” Escalante said.

While he doesn’t envision any medical staff moving in, he does envision hosting a place for them to catch a nap between shifts.

“This could be a nice, comfortable place for you guys to sleep, be comforted, and re-energize for all the hard work you’re doing.”

Escalante has reached out to staff at two local hospitals, Community Memorial Hospital and Ventura County Medical Center, to offer up his space and ask what they need.

“We know you guys are going to war,” he said. “we are here to serve.”

As for his own business, the calls to creditors has paid off.

“I don’t have to make a payment for anywhere between a month and 120 days on some of my bills,” Escalante said. “Now that’s a big, big relief off of my shoulders and my families. We can just relax, take care of our health, see how we can help our community and see how we can help each other.”


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