sanitized regularly and having no problems
with passenger social distancing.
“Overall our transition back into business
has gone smoothly,” Hager said. “The
businesses are thrilled to be open again
and the customers are happy to be here.”
Across town, mom and pop retailers are
having a tougher time. Denise Driscoll,
owner of All Thru the House Gifts and
Home Décor, has decided to close her
business after 40 years.
“I had already decided to retire before
COVID-19 and had literally just run an
advertising campaign a few days before
the stay-at-home order was enacted,”
she said. “All that advertising money was
wasted because we had to close our doors
for two months. When we reopened in
June, business was good the first week but
has slowed down considerably since then.
People are still afraid to go out.”
Driscoll was able to secure a Paycheck
Protection Program loan to pay her employees
during the down time and stayed
busy preparing her store to reopen with all
CDC guidelines in place.
“We sanitize regularly, supply hand
sanitizer and request that everyone wear
masks and social distance,” she said. “We’ll
be running a 60 percent off retirement sale
in July on all merchandise and fixtures.
COVID-19 is just making it more difficult
STUART BUSINESSES NEED
Historical downtown Main Street in
Stuart features small local retailers and
restaurants. The quaint stretch of Osceola
Street has always been a favorite place for
locals and visitors to stroll, shop, dine and
relax by the waterfront. COVID-19 turned
the bustling shopping district into a ghost
“We’ve explored so many options to
bring customers back to the district,” Patty
O’Connell, vice president of the Downtown
Business Association and owner of
two main street businesses, said.
“The city gave up some parking spaces
to allow restaurants to have street dining,
but it wasn’t really feasible to shut down
parking and traffic on the entire stretch
because many of the shops are only accessible
from their frontage on Osceola,”
she explained. “Plus, we’re in the dead heat
of summer and in the middle of the rainy
season. It didn’t make sense for retailers to
move merchandise outside.”
Instead, the DBA is running a shop local
campaign inviting customers to shop in
air-conditioned comfort with all stores
adhering to CDC safety guidelines.
“Each store implements their own masks
policy, but most shopkeepers and employees
are wearing them and encouraging
customers to wear them as well,” O’Connell
said. “Some stores, like Gumbo Limbo
Coastal Chic and Coastal Kidz stores, are
offering online shopping and shipping,
as well as curbside pickup for locals who
don’t want to venture inside. We want to
encourage everyone to come down and
shop. Our small businesses need your support
more than ever.”
Essential businesses were allowed to
stay open when all others were closed.
Who would have known that ice cream
and candy were essential? Fortunately
for Bill Moore, owner of Kilwins Stuart on
Osceola, they are.
“Ice cream and candy are food items, so
we were allowed to remain open, and the
sweet treats bring temporary comfort and
joy during trying times,” Moore said. “Even
though we were open we still took a major
hit because very few people were out and
about, and the lost months of March and
April account for nearly a third of our yearly
income. We stayed open with the goal of
keeping our employees off unemployment
and providing a place for the public to
come and enjoy an ice cream treat.”
Like everyone else, Moore had to
remove seating and rely on takeout and
curbside service for the first few months.
“It was difficult because ice cream
melts so quickly in this heat,” Moore
said. “Things are better now that we’ve
replaced the benches, spaced far apart for
social distancing, so customers can relax
as they indulge.”
The message that retailers want to deliver
to the public is that they need support
more now, than ever. Now that restrictions
have been lifted they implore you to stop
ordering from the internet giants and to
come out and shop with local merchants.
The friendly shopkeepers miss their
local customers and they’ve done everything
imaginable to ensure their safety.
Customers should do their part to stay safe
by wearing a mask, washing their hands
frequently, and social distancing. It’s all
about community support and banding
together to weather this latest storm.
Be smart… stay safe… shop local. v
All Thru The House Fine Gifts and Home Decor will be shutting its doors for good after serving
the Vero community for 40 years.
Kilwins candy makers, Jolie Hester and Kelsey Thompson, wear
masks and gloves in accordance with CDC safety guidelines.