Retail businesses are reopening for foot traffic this week under new state guidelines requiring no more than 10 people in 25 percent of a business’s square footage.
At Bisbee’s Hardware in Waitsfield, employee Kim Martino said customers are asked to wear face coverings and those at the checkout counters and paint counter are behind Plexiglas. Per state law, employees are wearing masks. Bisbee’s is continuing to offer curbside pickup for those who want it.
“For the most part, it feels safe. I’m keeping my distance from people,” she said.
Bisbee’s has a hand-sanitizer station at the entrance of the store.
Three Mountain Cafe
Next door at Three Mountain Cafe, owner Julie Burns said that reopening had gone well and that customers are asked to wear masks. She said there is a hand-sanitizing station at the front door that people are asked to use when they enter. She has yellow brick road duct tape on the floor to mark 6-feet intervals. There is another hand-sanitizing station where people check out.
She is still offering curbside pickup for people and some customers (including “the Grandma Mafia,” a local group of friends, who are congregating in beach chairs in the parking lot to drink their coffee).
“On Saturday during the farmers’ market, we had about 20 people come in, which is down from the 250 we usually have,” Burns said.
Kenyon’s Variety Store
A mile or so north on Route 100 at Kenyon’s Variety Store, Donna Kenyon said the reopening has gone well.
“It’s fine. A lot of people still don't want to come in and we’ll do curbside for them,” she said.
Kenyon’s is requiring customers to wear masks and has the store configured for one-way traffic by using cattle gates to direct the flow of traffic. Additionally, there are signs asking customers to stay one cow length apart to meet social distancing requirements.
“It’s going well. People are respecting the new rules,” she said.
Artisans’ Gallery, on Bridge Street in Waitsfield Village, plans to open May 29 according to partner Lori Klein. When the gallery does open, it will do so under strict regulations. Visitors will be required to wear masks. No more than 10 people will be allowed in the gallery at one time. Hand sanitizer will be readily available.
Before the gallery announces an official opening day, however, its partners wanted to wait and watch other local businesses as they open, in order to learn from them.
“We want to wait and see what happens with everybody else opening,” said gallery partner Lori Klein. “I’m expecting outbreaks,” she added, knowing full well the risks of opening during a pandemic, Klein said on May 20.
The Warren Store
Klein also works at The Warren Store Upstairs, which offers clothing, jewelry, kids toys, accessories and other goodies.
Downstairs at the deli, curbside service is going strong and will continue. The deli is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From the deli window, people can pick up sandwiches, daily specials and bakery treats. The Warren Store was open 10 to 4 on Memorial Day weekend for outdoor ordering only, according to manager Jack Garvin.
"We're not having anybody inside just yet," Garvin said and noted that there is currently no tentative indoor reopening date for the deli.
4orty Bridge in Waitsfield Village opened as soon as the state allowed on May 11. Store principal Marnie Davis said that they made the decision to reopen as soon as it was allowed because they thought it would be good for the community and good for the partners to be able to work again.
We’re not a high foot traffic store. We’re small and lot of second-home owners are not in The Valley right now. They’re a big part of our clientele. Under normal circumstances we may see 10 people a day. We’re limiting it to six people in the store and if that feels like too much, we’ll reduce that number,” Davis said.
There is hand sanitizer at the store and people are asked to wear masks. They are also asked not to handle everything. After people try on clothes, Davis said, they’re steaming the clothes and also quarantining them for 24 hours.
She noted that many of their loyal customers are older women who have been self-quarantining because of their age and said that it made sense to open sooner versus later to establish systems that work in terms of sanitation and distancing.
4orty Bridge is also offering shopping appointments for those who are uncomfortable coming to the store during regular hours. Regular hours are Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Private appointments are available when the store is not open.