Ferndale's Magic Bag owners fear COVID-19 closures may cause iconic venue to close

After more than six long months, the Magic Bag in Ferndale is being allowed to reopen in 9 days but the owner is concerned it's too late.

The Magic Bag in Ferndale has been THE venue for upcoming bands for decades but it's been dark since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic when Michigan businesses were closed. 

"We've had everybody in this place from Jack White and The White Stripes to Leon Russell, and right now, one of our biggest acts are cover acts," said Magic Bag owner Andy Bochenek.

With the prospect of reopening possible on October 9, is that enough to save this business? Bochenek said it's possible the iconic venue goes under.

There are significant costs associated with putting on a concert.  But Governor Gretchen Whitmer did allow venues like this to reopen as of October 9, at 20% capacity. 

"I trust that she's doing the right thing," Bochenek said it may cost him his business but he's willing to do what it takes to save lives.

The reality of COVID-19 is personal for the Magic Bag as Bochenek's business partner, Carrey Denha, had the virus. While he's recovered, he said it was difficult.

"One person, one person out of 400. What if that person spreads it to their family their uncle, their grandmother, grandfather, we couldn't live with ourselves," Bochenek said.

Help is on the way as supporters are encouraging the legislature to pass a bill that would help the Magic Bag and other independent music venues through SaveMIStages.

Representative Robert Wittenberg said there could be some federal money remaining to help out but help is needed.

"I'm really pushing for s a supplemental appropriation to support these independent venues so that they can make it. This is a gem," he said.

Although the budget has already been passed, there could be some federal money this year -which might help.