Dreamland Safari is one of the many businesses that received a Mainstreet Preservation Grant. 

Here is their story:

After months of due diligence and scraping together money, we (Paul and Sunny) signed the dotted line on the biggest purchase of our lives: Dreamland Safari Tours, a 7-employee & 10-truck tour guide business in SW Utah. We were incredibly excited for this next chapter of our lives; a bit nervous about being able to fulfill our responsibilities towards our employees and creditors, but brimming with optimism and big plans for how to run and expand the business.

Then COVID hit. Four days after we closed the deal, Trump announced that all flights from Europe were suspended due to COVID. 48 hours later, the stock market tanked. California, New York and Washington went into lockdown. Initially, we were mostly worried about how to keep our guides and guests healthy while still running tours. That mindset shifted rapidly, and we quickly understood that we had the moral obligation to suspend operations in order to protect our community, do our part to discourage recreational travel and help flatten the curve. 

Only ten days after buying Dreamland Safari Tours, we made the difficult but right decision to temporarily shut down the business. 

“We’ve been shut down since March 18. Being a tour guide business without the ability to run tours is debilitating. 

  • Our guides are without work and just got their last payroll for the foreseeable future.
  • We are working through a slew of tour cancellations and refunds (though lots of our customers have been amazing in working with us to simply postpone their trips rather than to cancel outright and ask for money back – thank you!!).
  • We have put a freeze on paying our local suppliers — all small businesses in their own right who are fighting their own fight to get through this — in order to preserve cash for refunds as we have to cancel tours not just in April but likely also in May and potentially even early June. 

“We can and will survive, but it won’t be easy. What’s even worse: since we just bought Dreamland, it looks like we may not qualify for any federal disaster assistance. A lot of the SBA loans, just like any regular bank loans, require a 2-year operating history and due to the change of ownership, Dreamland Safari Tours is now considered a startup again even though the business has been running for almost two decades.

“Thanks to the Mainstreet Preservation Grant, as well as funding from several different sources, are allowing us to employ our guides for project work, and to basically stay in business. It has also allowed us to stay current and pay our local vendors, who are small businesses in their own right.

Learn more about Dreamland Safari: dreamlandtours.net.

The Mainstreet Preservation Grant, provided by the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Job Opportunities Foundation, is made possible thanks to a $500,000 donation from WCF Insurance. The grant funds are used to support rural and/or minority small businesses in Utah that need immediate assistance due to the COVID-19 and before federal stimulus funding is accessed. These grant funds are intended to help businesses in the short-term. To donate or learn more about the Mainstreet Preservation Grant, visit slchamber.com/mainstreet-preservation-grant.