Only four people at a time can browse through Quilts on Plum Lane.
But, at least that’s a new beginning for a shop that has a long tradition in downtown Dade City.
Donna Lillibridge has been selling fabric, patterns and quilt kits for nearly 17 years.
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has thrown small businesses, such as this one, for a loop.
“This is something I’ve never seen in my life,” Lillibridge said. “There are a lot of great uncertainties.”
But, Lillibridge, along with other small business owners across Pasco County, are reopening their doors and waiting to see what comes next.
Since mid-March stores closed under an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, a deadly virus that has been cited for claiming nearly 79,000 lives across the nation.
DeSantis announced a phased-in restart of Florida’s economy, effective May 4.
Initially, restaurants and retail could open at 25% capacity and with space for social distancing. Restaurants also could have outdoor seating, provided the tables are at least 6 feet apart.
Pasco County officials also recently announced that restaurants could use parking lot space to expand space available for outdoor seating.
And, DeSantis announced that hair salons and barbershops could reopen effective May 11, provided they operate at 25% capacity, and follow safety protocols.
Movie theaters, gyms and bars remain closed.
Lillibridge had to furlough her employees.
During the shutdown, she got phone calls from customers, many wanting to make face masks. She would box up supplies and put them on the sidewalk for pickup.
“I think I gave out 1,500 yards of elastics,” she said.
On the first day back at work, Lillibridge waited for a friend who was going to help out at the store.
In Land O’ Lakes, Hungry Harry’s Family BBQ is fielding calls to reschedule catered parties that were canceled when the coronavirus struck.
Most of those are in August, said Jaime Bradford, Hungry Harry’s catering manager.
Takeout orders kept the restaurant going. But, indoor seating is now available at four tables. Another four tables are in an overflow room and five picnic tables can seat customers outside.
“Obviously we took a huge hit with catering,” Bradford said. But, owner Harry Wright “was able to keep a full staff and keep us paid. We’re excited and can’t wait to get back to normal.”
In Zephyrhills, the coronavirus tested the resilience and ingenuity of the owners of K & M Treasures and Antiques.
The antiques shop is a two-person operation that opened downtown in 2016. Kathy Stepp and Murph Murphy mostly fielded phone calls and made some online sales during the shutdown.
“It (shutdown) definitely hit sales really hard,” said Stepp. And, online sales could become a larger part of their business, she added.
For now, the shop is open and can easily meet social distancing requirements.
“The nature of our business is only a few people at a time are here,” she said. “We have plenty of stuff to keep everyone away from each other.”
Not many people stopped on the first day.
But, Stepp said, “I guess we’ve started. I hope it will pick up. We’re definitely trying to get more stuff online.”
Meanwhile, shop owners like her wait for more traffic in downtown.
Florida’s Phase 1 reopening
This is a summary of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase 1 reopening for Florida, excluding Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties:
- Schools should distance learn through the end of the year
- No visits allowed at long-term care facilities
- Restaurants and shops may open at 25% capacity and must follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Outdoor dining at restaurants is allowed with 6 feet distancing between tables.
- Elective surgeries are allowed
- Movie theaters and gyms are closed
- Effective May 11, barbershops and hair salons could open with “enhanced safety protocols
Published May 13, 2020