Back in bloom Liz Mattingly and her husband, Julian, did all the work as Lilia Flower Boutique waited for a $20,000 PPP loan approved with Wells Fargo in April. Liz Mattingly had to wait two months for the $19,905 she was entitled to collect through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The shop owner should have collected the money 10 days after the loan was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which would have allowed her to rehire her furloughed workers sooner and get them off unemployment.

But Mattingly’s bank, Wells Fargo, failed to notify her of the approval and later refused to release the funds because of a glitch in her application. Other customers of big banks have also complained about delays in obtaining their funds.

“I think it’s because we had a small loan and we’re a small business,” said Mattingly, owner of Lilia Flower Boutique in Wayzata. “We’re unimportant. They make it really obvious to you.”

In a written statement, Wells Fargo spokesman Steve Carlson said the bank is sometimes unable to move forward with funding a PPP loan when it can’t confirm that all lending requirements have been met.

“We are sorry for the hardship this caused Ms. Mattingly,” Carlson said in the statement. “We can’t comment on the specific details of a customer’s situation.”

Mattingly started her business nine years ago, and it was coming off its best year — posting $500,000 in sales — when COVID-19 reached Minnesota. Though her shop was allowed to remain open, Mattingly said her event business plummeted as couples postponed weddings and restaurants closed across the state. She applied for a PPP loan in April.

“We’ve lost about 50% of our income because of weddings,” said Mattingly, whose shop usually does $150,000 in wedding arrangements each summer. “People aren’t canceling on us, but they are rescheduling, and a lot of that work won’t happen until 2021.”

Mattingly’s small shop has just two full-time employees, and she sent them home in late March, shortly after the governor issued his first stay-home order. Flower shops were allowed to remain open for delivery business because they were deemed “critical” to the economy.

She expected her retail business to collapse, but the shop stayed surprisingly busy. Mattingly said her online sales tripled as customers called in large orders for birthdays and anniversaries as a substitute for taking a loved one to dinner.

But with her employees at home, Mattingly, who is pregnant, and her husband, Julian, had to do all the work.

“It’s been a really crazy two months,” said Mattingly, who is due to deliver her first baby in July. “We have been working 12- and 14-hour days every week.”

Mattingly wanted to rehire her workers shortly after Mother’s Day, but her PPP application was put on hold when the program ran out of money in mid-April. On April 25, after Congress agreed to make another $310 billion available to small-business owners, Wells Fargo sent her an e-mail telling her the bank would soon submit her paperwork.“These are truly unprecedented times that […]