Utah small business worries that TikTok ban could hurt growth

Mar 13, 2024, 6:11 PM | Updated: 8:03 pm

LOGAN — A bill that could ban TikTok in the US is moving through Congress, and some local small business owners are concerned about the negative impact on their businesses.

The owner of Cache Valley Pharmacy, Phillip Cowley, said TikTok helps connect his business with people who wouldn’t otherwise even know they’re here. During the COVID pandemic, he worried if the pharmacy would survive.

“Funds were gone, and we had to try something new,” Cowley said.

A neon sign promoting the PhilsMyPharmicist account.

A neon sign promoting the PhilsMyPharmicist account. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Cache Valley Pharmacy was busy, but Cowley said they don’t get to choose the prices at pharmacies, and profit margins were tight during the pandemic.

“For the first time ever, I went on social media, we went on TikTok, and it just blew up,” he said.

Cowley said he began sharing his healthcare knowledge on the internet. He spoke about ailments like insomnia and athlete’s foot and what people could do about them. His account, PhilsMyPharmicis, became viral and now has over 1.6 million followers.

“And from that, I mean, realistically, it really did save everybody’s job who works here,” Cowley said.

A video from the PhilsMyPharmicist account talking about ADHD.

A video from the PhilsMyPharmicist account talking about ADHD. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

For Cache Valley Pharmacy, the TikTok account remains a major part of the business. Cowley said he puts down dozens of hours each week into it.

“It opens doors that small businesses haven’t had for years because we’re continually trying to battle with these behemoths,” he said.

Cowley said he feels that Congress’s reasons for banning TikTok are un-American.

“Every time you trade freedom for supposed security is completely un-American. The American way is for us to have freedoms to find our own way,” he said.

Cowley recording a video with an employee for the TikTok account.

Cowley recording a video with an employee for the TikTok account. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Cowley acknowledges there are always risks in putting our data into any social media, but he believes targeting one platform won’t make us safer. The ban is only taking away an important tool for businesses like his.

He said that if TikTok is banned, Cache Valley Pharmacy will survive, but he worries about other small business owners who depend on the app for growth.

“In exchange for a supposed security that they can’t really give to us,” Cowley said.

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Utah small business worries that TikTok ban could hurt growth