How shoppers respond to the reopening of Vermont stores after a 2 month coronavirus shutdown

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Vermont retail stores were ready to reopen Monday, with adjustments. 

Businesses across the state modified operations in light of COVID-19, the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019. Some retailers closed their doors in mid-March as the virus hit and large retailers received orders to limit the sale of non-essential items a few weeks later.

More: Why you might see the sports and toy aisles blocked off at Walmart

More: How Burlington retailers are affected by the coronavirus pandemic

The state issued guidelines for stores set to reopen May 18. Measures include mandating that employees wear facial coverings or masks; requiring employees to go through health and safety training for COVID-19; and setting an occupancy limit for the number of people allowed in stores. 

More: Vermont’s retail stores to open as early as May 18. Here’s what to know.

Here’s what shoppers were up to on the first morning stores reopened on Church Street:

Catching up on an errand

Nancy Carey has needed to get some watches repaired since the pandemic hit. She set out for Tick Tock Jewelers Monday morning. 

Carey’s been selective when it comes to grocery stores adhering to standards she felt comfortable with and confirmed she’d do the same with the shops.

“Although things have changed I’ve still done primarily what I normally do with modifications,” she said. “But I haven’t felt like I wasn’t able to do anything in particular.” 

Confidence from a few consumers

Tom Carroll and Bob Vanheeks felt comfortable when they stopped into Homeport Monday morning. The couple said they used to come to Church Street every week and hoped to get some more shopping in if possible. 

“We just have to see for now what’s going to be open,” Vanheeks said.  

Gretchen Jones wore a face mask to reassure others. But she has been quarantining at home, leaving to go to the grocery store and on walks with her dog.

“I’m not feeling personally uncomfortable about coming out,” she said. “Especially not going into the stores. They’ve been closed for eight weeks.”

She’s not an online shopper, preferring the personal touch. She and her 23-year-old daughter, Ellen, had already checked out Ecco clothing store. 

Still shopping to-go

A block down from Homeport, Andrea Foster stopped by Garcia’s Tobacco Shop, accompanied by her friend Debbie Thibault. Foster, who called in her order, had mixed feelings about whether she missed in-person shopping during this period. 

“Yes and no,” she said. “I mean I can take it or leave it. Garcia’s is amazing. Their staff is amazing. So they’ve been great all throughout the process.”

Just walking by the shops for now

Chris Feerick and his daughter took a walk down Church Street for some fresh air Monday. 

“We know that businesses are open and all that stuff,” he said, but noted they weren’t wearing facial coverings.

Getting out felt like the right move, especially with his three-year-old daughter out of school. Feerick wasn’t itching to get into stores just yet but planned to follow protocols when he does.

Vermont stores gear up for reopenings with modified operations during the coronavirus

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Hello again from the team at Manchester Woodcraft! We are excited to announce that we will be opening our doors ‪starting TOMORROW‬, ‪Monday May 18‬, for in-store shopping. Although the shopping experience will look different as we will be following retail guidelines set by the state of Vermont, we are approaching this with the same level of care and amazing customer service you expect while shopping with us. This “new normal” experience means our staff will be wearing masks, and kindly asking our guests and customers to do the same. We will be sanitizing excessively, and limiting our store hours ‪from 10am – 3pm‬(ish). There will be customer capacity limits within the store, so shopping by appointment, via phone, and curbside pickup are all still highly encouraged as we ease into this new routine. Please call us at ‪(802) 362-5770‬ if you need anything or would like to inquire about a product or custom work.  Your patience, understanding, and support as we navigate through these tough times have been tremendous. We thank you and can’t wait to see you all again! ❤️

A post shared by Manchester Woodcraft | Vermont (@manchesterwoodcraft) on May 17, 2020 at 8:22am PDT

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Hello Friends! We hope you’re well. Since we were last together 6 weeks ago, we’ve been perfecting *contactless* ways to bring you books. We’ve seen unprecedented numbers of web orders, made recommendations via social media, email, and by phone and set up curbside pick-up tables. To you and to our booksellers, we say thank you and bravo! We make a good team, don’t we? ❤ Curbside pickup is here for the forseeable future and our website is always open! . Although Gov. Scott has permitted retail to open doors, we’ve decided to wait a bit longer to ensure safe and healthy work/shop environments for our staff and you. 🔶️We’ve set a goal of Tues. May 26🔶️ for limited browsing. More details to come! . We’re using this time to retrain our staff, modify layouts to meet distancing guidelines, secure supplies, and as always, deeply clean. Things will be different, yes, but some things are the same…you, our booksellers, and our shared passion for books. . Until we see you in person, we are still here and happy to help by email, social media, and on phoenixbooks.biz. From the bottom of our grateful hearts, thank you for your support these past weeks! 💝💖💞 With great affection, Your Phoenix Books booksellers . #phoenixbooksburlington #phoenixbooksessex #phoenixbooksvt #shoplocal #shopindie #indiebookstore #booksmakeeverythingbetter #weloveourcustomers #booksbooksbooks

A post shared by Phoenix Books (@phoenixbooksvt) on May 17, 2020 at 8:27am PDT

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89

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