Padanaram retailers settle into reopening

Jun 29, 2020

It’s a whole new world for the Dartmouth village’s brick-and-mortar retailers. 

Following the beginning of phase two of the state’s reopening plan on June 8, local businesses are starting to settle into a shopping environment that includes face masks and social distancing.

At Strawberry Moon in Padanaram, many new precautions have been implemented to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Along with standard protocols such as increased cleaning and limiting the amount of customers, the crystal shop has had to cut some of its in-house offerings like reiki and sound healing.

But not all services are gone. According to employee Gwynn Burns, tarot readings are still going on, now with the addition of plexiglass dividers. 

“It definitely adds something to the experience,” she joked.

Despite the new requirements, Burns said business has been going very well since the shop reopened earlier in the month. She said that many returning customers have told her that Strawberry Moon was the first non-grocery store they’ve gone into since the beginning of the pandemic.

“People have really missed getting their crystals,” Burns said.

So far, customers have embraced the new precautions, with many saying they’re just glad to get out of the house for once and have missed connecting with their neighborhoods and communities.

“It’s definitely nice to talk to people that don't include my family,” Bridgewater resident Melissa Laubi said. “It’s great to see the world reopen.”

Dahlia Living and Padanaram Outfitters owner resident Natalie Sine has also seen a steady turnout since reopening earlier in the month.

“The local reopening has been great,” she said. “The village was missing a vibe.”

So far, she said there have been no returns on clothes, but if there are, they will be kept under quarantine until they are allowed to be resold.

For the handprint designer Shara Porter, she said in-person business at her Elm Street shop has been a little slow since reopening last week, but added that foot traffic is beginning to pick up.

“It’s been a nice and calm reopening so far,” she said. 

As for safety precautions, Porter said that in addition to mask requirements and having customers sanitizing upon entry, she also installed UV lights to kill any viruses or bacteria that may live on the surfaces of her products.

She added that she wanted to put in place protocols that she knew would make her safe, and for those who still want to shop but aren’t comfortable with going in-person, she said that deliveries are still an option.

Newly reopened art galleries are also adjusting to the new normal.

Normally, the beginning of summer is synonymous with art strolls and receptions to promote local artists. Because of the pandemic, these are going to look different this year.

At 6 ½ Bridge Street Gallery, gallery founder Sarah Morse said the plan is to try to update the gallery’s web presence to showcase the work that’s for sale. 

Now, having employees and customers back in the store is a step closer to normalcy, but even still, things are far from normal.

“Some days have been really busy, while others have had people who were surprised to see we were reopened,” she said.

Although the typical customer base for the summer is not there yet, Morse said she is starting to see an uptick in visitors. She added that since the gallery is a relatively small space, she is only allowing two customers to enter at a time — something she calls a “Noah’s ark approach.”

Morse is looking forward to the rest of the summer and remains optimistic and hopeful.

“We’re taking it as it comes,” she said. “So far we have held our own.”