Stores still accommodating customers with curbside pickups
Primrose Boutique’s walk-in storefront was open Friday for the first time in months and owner Danelle Durdan had a full shop.
“I was expecting to be busy because of the weekend and the weather,” Durdan said. “It’s perfect out today.”
Customers and workers, alike, inside the newly-renovated 409 E. Main St. store in Streator was wearing masks but Durdan said that’s not a requirement at her store.
Her aim is to be as inclusive as possible.
“We’re not requiring masks because we want everyone to feel comfortable but we do have exclusive shopping days for people who prefer everyone to be wearing masks on Sunday, Monday and Thursday,” Durdan said. “Some people want to be very careful but there are others that are just happy to have normalcy back.”
While Prairie Fox Books in Ottawa never closed, technically, due to the pandemic, they’ve been limited to curbside pickup sales and delivery for the duration of the state quarantine.
They are now allowing in-store shopping but all customers must wear a mask and they have a bottle of hand sanitizer at the entrance for everyone that comes in.
“Right when we opened the door to fresh air, we started getting people in here,” said Dylan Conmy. “It’s been steady but it’s coming in bursts.”
Owner Gabriella Crivilare said it’s been good to be able to speak to and actually see other people in the store.
“It’s kind of like we all came in like cicadas from underground and are finally discovering that there are other humans still existing out there,” Conmy said. “It’s been a pleasant surrealism.”
Conmy said their main priority remains safety, and they will still offer curbside pickup for those who don’t want to come into the store.
“We’ve seen a lot more feedback on Facebook,” Conmy said. “People have been calling us to make sure we’re open and a lot of avid readers are getting back into it because they’ve had more time. I kind of love seeing that.”
Businesses acknowledged it may be slow at the start.
A couple wandered in to Roxie’s Sweet Confections in Utica. They couldn’t get into Starved Rock via Route 178 so they doubled back to Utica for a candy stop. Roxie Neurohr was happy to oblige.
It was one of her few sales Friday. Though the state of Illinois loosened its pandemic restrictions and expanded walk-in opportunities for shoppers, Roxie’s was among the retail businesses that didn’t exactly have a line out the door.
“It’s going to be a slow start,” Neurohr acknowledged, “but I’m sure we’ll get there.”
Utica retailers expect business to pick up as tourists return to Starved Rock. At Two Girls and a Cupcake, owner Jill Lee was baking pastries for her reopening Saturday. Lee was closed Friday betting that the first-day-back crowd wouldn’t be much to behold.
At midday Friday, it looked as if she was right. Same-day attendance figures weren’t available from the park office, but there were indicators of limited attendance: Starved Rock’s lower lot remains flooded and motorists from Utica were detoured to the entrance on Route 71.
Even those retailers smarting from a dismal spring weren’t banking on, much less expecting, an abrupt turnaround.