By Ronni Newton. List of retailers compiled by Dexter McCann
Essential businesses in West Hartford – like those in the rest of the state – were permitted to remain open even as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many retailers and restaurants to close their doors to customers.
Grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores, liquor stores, appliance stores, and big box stores were among the retailers that were deemed essential and remained open for the duration.
As of May 20, the “non-essential” retailers – clothing and shoe stores, sporting goods stores, jewelry stores, and more – began to slowly open their doors.
The Town of West Hartford is in the process of finalizing a plan for retailers, as well as restaurants, to expand their outdoor operations onto public rights of way as well as certain parking areas and even portions of roadways. Permits for outdoor expansion will be required, and more information can be found here.
There have been 28 applications filed thus far, only one of which was from a retailer – b.Kind – looking to expand outdoors.
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz took a tour of West Hartford restaurants and retailers on Thursday, asking them how the reopening has been going.
James Hines, one of the owners of Cookshop Plus, which moved to 60 LaSalle Rd. late last year, said business has actually slowed since the premises reopened to customers last week. “When we were closed it was good because of curbside pick-up,” Hines said.
Terry Ryan of Cookshop Plus said that it’s going to take a while for people to start really shopping again.
John Green, president and CEO of Lux Bond & Green, welcomed Cantor and Bysiewicz into the LaSalle Road store on Thursday. He said that the first few days the jeweler had about 30 customers a day, mostly people shopping for wedding, anniversary, or graduation gifts.
Green said retailers have had to become more flexible. “Yesterday we had a client who didn’t want to come in but wanted her watch fixed,” he said. They met her at her car.
“It’s all about how does the customer want to shop today,” Green said.
Kimberly Mattson Moster, owner of Kimberly Boutique and kimberlyGift on Farmington Avenue, said the flow of shoppers has been better when the weather is nice and people are out strolling around the Center.
Stephanie Blozy, co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports, is very happy about reopening.
“It’s so exciting to have customers IN the store again!” she told We-Ha.com. “We have updated our in-store experience with enhanced safety measures to help create a safe, responsible retail environment where everyone can shop and work safely. One of our biggest changes is encouraging customers to make an appointment ahead of time via our website since we’re limited to 50% of our usual capacity in the store. So far this has been well received as people love not having to wait for service.”
SockStarz General Manager, Patricia Kinney; Merchandising Manager, Lori Gailey; and Harc VP of Development Maureen Madden sat down with Annisa Teich of The Small Business Collective - virtually of course - for a conversation about our BIG first year and how both SockStarz and Harc are pivoting their efforts to better support adults with disabilities through their essential programs.
Get ready to shop with us in YOUR neighborhood, as we head out on tour to bring the joy of socks to fairs, corporate campuses, and special events near you.