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By Ken Wells with Katarzyna Klimasinska
Orange Beach, Ala.
The year kicked off with a 20 percent increase in sales at Tallulah’s Treasures, so owner Thomas took out a loan and stocked her gift shop with more sandals, parrot-shaped fans, and jewelry. “This was supposed to be the biggest summer since 2004,” she says. It was also going to be the year she paid off $45,000 in debt. Over the Memorial Day weekend, however, the tourists stayed away, and Thomas realized the spill would hurt her long before the oil ever ruined nearby beaches. “For a while, I woke up crying and I went down to sleep crying,” she says. “I can handle things that are in my control, but the things that are out of control tend to stress me out.”