EDMONDS, Wash. — Supporting local businesses during the pandemic is certainly important, but one Edmonds business owner has an international reach that is impacted.

European travel guru and media personality Rick Steves isn’t letting the pandemic shutter his Edmonds headquarters. His booming travel business has been among the many companies closed for several months during the pandemic. 

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Steves employs 100 people and felt a responsibility to retain them despite his business being on hold. He said it’s a 'civic responsibility' to figure out a way to retain his employees and support the community in a time of dire need. 

"That’s why we have created the Rick Steves’ Volunteer Corps (RSVC). My vision is to have the flexibility within our staff to accommodate personal needs and our company needs while offering a reliable and consistent workforce for the needs of the community projects we’re supporting," said Steves. "We’d like to be sure the people running those programs can count on steady, substantial, and reliable help from us, rather than wonder if tomorrow’s shift will be covered."

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"This will give our staff the dignity of producing something of value for the hours they’re being paid. And we hope it will inspire other companies in a similar circumstance to also contribute—by helping those struggling in their community as we are in ours," he continued.

Steves’s employees are out cleaning local trails of debris and weeds, working with food banks and delivering food to seniors in Snohomish County.

They also have a team working the phone bank to amplify the importance of voting, which is a big commitment from a business that hasn’t made any money in 2020.

“Last year, we took 30,000 people to Europe, and this year, we had 20,000 signed up but had to cancel and refund all of their money,” Steves said.

He said if he was a publicly-traded company that they would likely tell him to cut his losses and lay off the staff, but Steves said he’s made a good living over 30 years and owes that to his employees. 

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