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‘A piece of normalcy’

After Gov. Kim Reynolds eased restrictions of non-essential businesses, local business owners navigate the new normal

Wising Well (left) and Hazel Maries (right) are both open with no limits to customers, with shop managers feeling the limited traffic daily is not a cause for concern to each shop.
Wising Well (left) and Hazel Maries (right) are both open with no limits to customers, with shop managers feeling the limited traffic daily is not a cause for concern to each shop.

Several businesses in Creston have opened up their doors after Gov. Kim Reynolds’ May 6 proclamation eased restrictions for non-essential businesses.

While many businesses are keeping their doors shut, two boutique owners in town decided to open, but in two different ways.

Lori’s Boutique on Highway 34 is open, but is not allowing anyone under 16 years old. At Lori’s, masks are optional and the store is still offering curbside pickups – as it has been doing through the pandemic. The regulations for her store are listed on the door, which are visible from the outside.

Owner Lori Means said the decision to open is a way of testing the waters.

“I thought we would kind of do a soft opening. Be open less days and less hours, and just see how it went. It’s optional. I still have my online (store) open,” said Means.

Her store offers online shopping, www.lorisboutique.net, where customers can view and purchase clothing, which is available in store as well.

Limitations at Lori’s include closed dressing rooms, which don’t have a future date set for when they’ll be available.

“At this time, I don’t know. We’re kind of just taking it a day at a time, a week at a time,” said Means. “We’ll just keep evaluating the situation and what’s going on in the county.”

For Hazel Maries and Wishing Well, both stores which operate under Darlene Riley’s and Jennifer Shirbroun’s direction, opened the day after the proclamation and have been operating as normal, without restrictions.

“I feel that people have to take responsibility for themselves. If they are needing to be cautious, we do sanitizing, ... and as long as people wash their hands and disinfect after handling things, they should be good,” said Riley.

In both stores, there is ample space for customers to socially distance themselves, if desired. While there are no requirements to enter, Riley and Shirbroun want customers to feel comfortable in both stores by leaving the option for curbside pickup or delivery available, along with wearing a mask inside.

“We feel its a personal deal, if people are uncomfortable. I’ve had health care people in here that don’t wear a mask,” said Riley. “It all depends on the person’s preference. Some people have underlying conditions, some don’t. They can wander around the store and not be within 6-feet of anybody. ... We can go all day and not see 10 people in the store.”

Shirbroun also added that fairly often the stores are not crowded, with one or two customers being in the store at the same time.

“Here, there’s just a lot less handling of the merchandise. Your chances of breaking social distancing guidelines would be rare,” said Shirbroun.” ... You can respect the guidelines that are out and still feel safe and comfortable (here).”

Despite both Hazel Maries and Wishing Well retaining all employees from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Means said her whole staff was laid off after receiving no support, and are slowly coming back to work. Shirbroun added it’ll take “months to catch up” when factoring in lost sales with out-of-season merchandise while Means said there was noticeable profit loss.

“Honestly, (we’re) glad to be open. The people that are coming in couldn’t wait for us to be open,” said Riley.

Spencer’s chophouse, Java J’s open with limits

Up the road at Spencer’s Chophouse, customers have been able to go out for a sit-down meal since May 8.

Customers are able to sit inside and eat at either a booth or a table, but not at the bar – which is still closed until next week. Seating is arranged to comply with social distancing, with open spots at every other booth and at properly distanced tables.

“The decision was pretty easy to us. ... It wasn’t necessarily money-based,” said owner Tom Spencer. “We looked at it more as trying to give people a piece of normalcy in our community.”

Spencer added the restaurant is continuing the sanitation practices it had in place before on top of the ones directed by the proclamation, saying the only difference is the seating capacity.

“We really didn’t see it as being any type of invasive decision on the governor’s part,” said Spencer.

Spencer doesn’t think being open gives the restaurant any advantage over others that are choosing to keep their doors shut. Spencer’s, similar to A&G and Mario’s, has been doing curbside pickup over the last few weeks.

“I don’t know if I would call it a benefit. We all share the customer base, and we all make our [own] decisions,” said Spencer. “We feel like we’re leaders in the community and not followers, so we decided to make this decision on our own thoughts.”

Java J’s, located in the same building with Creston’s True Value hardware store, opened up Monday with shortened our hours from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re not serving lunch yet. We’re not going to serve that until June 1. We weren’t wanting to open, ... we held off a little bit. Our customers have been coming in and asking when we’re going to open, so (Monday) was a good date we decided to open,” said manager Cori Johnson.

Johnson said the closure due to the pandemic does not hinder Java J’s business, and that they will be in a good position going forward.

As for now, as more non-essential small businesses open up, Spencer echoes the thoughts of many business owners in relation to re-opening.

“I think everyone needs a piece of normalcy right now, after the last eight weeks of being trapped in the house,” said Spencer.

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