On Friday, Phase 1 of North Carolina’s coronavirus recovery plan went into effect. That meant that retail businesses across the state could begin to reopen. A lot of shoppers were out this weekend.
“Like a rollercoaster, honestly, up and down, good days, bad days.”
Kendall Hurt opened her women’s clothing and accessory boutique, Meadowlark, in The Forum three and a half years ago. This is not what she expected for the spring of 2020.
“I've had some really wonderful moments from my customers and from friends and from folks that I know throughout the community and network throughout the community with, people dropping off flowers, strawberries, disinfectant. And then there are days where I'm down because of all the work I've done and building the business. And, it's just really hard to not have people greet you at your shop each day and it's hard to not know what the future's going to bring.”
I asked her if she thought now was the right time to begin opening up again.
“That's a really interesting question and I could argue both points. I can typically argue both sides of anything, but especially this one. I very much believe that we have to take care of our economy. I think that it's critical as especially think for small businesses and local businesses. It is critical, but I also very much feel for those that have family members and friends that they're concerned about. I very much understand why they want people to stay home. So I'm just glad it's not my decision.”
The Ivy Cottage, a large consignment store on Market Street, also reopened this weekend. Andrew Keller, the owner, is concerned about his employees.
“Most of our staff will be back. Um, we're easing into it. Some of them medically, some of the staff has preexisting conditions and I don't want to subject them to the virus. So those that feel safe are welcome to come back.”
But he says his consignment business took a hit, and it will take a while to catch-up.
“We're consignment so everything in this store is dated. So we were closed for almost two months. We still have to pay our consigner the full amount before we shut down. So the store is definitely going to take a hit in the long-term and then catching up all the rents. Cause we do have five buildings here. Um, the landlords have helped us out, but we still have to pay that back.”
Keller says he’s received quite the education these last few months.
“My main lesson I've learned and we've been through several hurricanes, is to have more of a cushion financially. Hurricanes are predictable. Even during Florence, we knew it was going to be several weeks, but there was no way to predict this long of a shutdown. We during the, during the slowdown, during the shutdown, we were able to open an online store, which we would not have had time to do while we were open. So we do have more of a digital presence that we didn't have before.”
There are still a number of restrictions that remain in place for local businesses. Dine-in restaurants are still closed. Gyms are still closed.
And some businesses are adding their own restrictions.
Nationally, Costco started a mandatory mask policy for everyone inside its stores.
Locally, the Tidal Creek Food Co-Op has notified customers that it will start enforcing a “No Mask, No Entry” policy.
Vince Winkel, WHQR News.