May 15 marked a day of peak sunshine and anticipated work as many businesses participated in Phase 1 of reopening.
Business owners shared their excitement of being able to go back to work, but many were also cautious and mindful when it came to the safety of their employees and customers.
“Today, Main Street is way busier than it has been since March, and the sunshine doesn’t hurt either,” said Heather Rookstool, the manager of Java Jungle.
Sherri Rininger, owner of “etc. A Unique Boutique,” said she was very excited to reopen. She said she is doing everything at the shop to protect guests while adhering to the guidelines in Phase 1.
Rininger has prepared her shop by having a sign-in log at the entrance of the store, arrows 6 feet apart to direct the flow of traffic, hand sanitizer and gloves for customers to use if they want to touch an item.
Rininger, who has no employees, said she was limited on what financial assistance programs she qualified for.
“I’ve been shipping out a lot of stuff, but it will be nice to have my store back,” Rininger said. “I’ve missed it, and we couldn’t hold out much longer financially. It was killing us.”
While the shop has been closed, she continued to pay for expenses such as rent and utilities.
She said she hopes to get enough business to cover the rising expenses as she opens, because if not, she’ll remain in the same financial predicament she is currently in.
Rookstool said that the barber and tanning booths at Java Jungle have reopened and customers have been understanding when it comes to the personal protective equipment required in Phase 1.
Rookstool said hand sanitizer can be found at each check-in point, and employees are asking customers to sanitize before they come in.
Within hours of reopening, Joe Radinovich, the barber at Java Jungle, was booked through the weekend and into this week.
“That shows that people needed and wanted it to be open,” Rookstool said. “The two biggest things I noticed is how fast he is booking and how Main Street is already filling up.”
While many businesses are reopening, The Ugly Truth Bar & Grill will continue to serve takeout but will not fully reopen, according to owner Ali Lenz.
Lenz said her business runs a little different than a regular sit-down restaurant, and restrictions, such as closing by 10 p.m., are inconvenient for her establishment.
“Yes, there is a component in there under restaurants and bars that all establishments have to close by 10 p.m., and I cannot explain where that came from,” said state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale during a virtual town hall. “... I would hope to heck that, as we get to this point, we can continue to work on and add some common sense.”
Squeeze-In Restaurant owner Shawn Duncan said she is not sure how reopening is going to go, but her restaurant is ready to go as tables are spread out to comply with the 6-feet requirement.
A benefit of reopening Squeeze-In is that some of Duncan’s employees hadn’t received their unemployment benefits yet and needed to get to work. She said she is glad to have them back to earn money.
Duncan hopes that cases of COVID-19 do not begin to spread and that people traveling to the county do not bring the illness with them.
“My biggest fear of opening this place is that it might spread, and that is why I almost did not open back up,” Duncan said. “We have been lucky, and we want to keep it that way.”