‘Let the people in’: local retail outlets embrace stage one reopening

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Retail outlets across the county are taking different approaches to the first stage of the province’s reopening plan.

With June 11 being the first day they are allowed to open at limited capacity, some stores are hosting opening day celebrations and/or continuing online sales, while others are holding off on opening right away.

“We’re celebrating,” said Bonnie Shortill, owner of Jaboli, a women’s clothing boutique in Fergus.

She noted the store is offering refreshments, cake and balloons on June 11, as well as a few deals.

“It’s a surprise,” Shorthill said about planned price drops.

During lockdown the store has been operating via online orders and curbside pickup, but that has its disadvantages, as customers can’t try on clothing prior to purchasing.

Shortill has missed the customer interaction as well, noting, “It’s very sad – a store full of products that nobody’s seen.”

Jaboli staff in Fergus on June 11 ready for the store’s opening. From left are: Donna Metcalfe, Corina Shortill, Lee Mathews, Carlee Reid, and Bonnie Shortill. Photo by Olivia Rumbell


Despite the challenges she stressed the store is “doing fine” and opening is a bonus.

The store will still have COVID-19 protocols implemented, including contact lists and sanitizing.

“It’s not like we haven’t done it before,” said Shortill. “I just want everybody back.”

The Fergus Scottish Corner Shop is celebrating the news as well, though it has been able to stay open during lockdowns since a significant portion of its stock is food.

Owner Joyce Reimer played the bagpipes on June 11 outside of her shop to celebrate anyway.

“I play them regularly,” said Joyce, though the timing of her performances can be sporadic.

Sharon Scott of Grand Gourmet in Elora hasn’t been offering online sales during lockdown, but curbside pickup has been running.

“It’s been very different,” she said of the adjustment.

Scott noted it has been a tough time for everyone, with merchandise being in short supply, and shipping costs up.

Her store will implement mandatory COVID-19 protocols, with just four people allowed in at once.

“It will be insane,” Scott added, well aware of the community’s eagerness to have shops reopen.

Maureen TenHoopen from Blooms on Main in Drayton, said the business has been doing well in lockdown, but she’s still ready to open the doors.

“Let the people in,” she said.

Blooms on Main has been busier during the pandemic with TenHoopen having to hire more staff last September.

She said with people stuck at home and with all the restrictions in place and events cancelled, people can’t make it, so they send flowers instead.

To celebrate being open there’s a sale on roses, potentially lasting into the weekend, depending on stock.

TenHoopen said she is looking forward to the change of reopening, as online sales have their downside.

When people buy online, she explained, they miss some of the smaller stock items not posted on the website, and running to the door all the time for curbside pickup is a pain.

TenHoopen talked of great community support, crediting it to living “in a community that loves flowers.”

Preparing for the June 11 opening was hard work for the Plumber’s Wife in Arthur.

Store owner Paula Coffey said the pressure was immense to get everything ready so the opening was not delayed.

The Plumbers Wife in Arthur staff on June 11, from left: Genevieve Paquet, Dillon Bernier and Paula Coffey. Photo by Olivia Rumbell


“We’re very excited to see our customers,” she said.

A busy reopening was anticipated, as Coffey thinks everyone’s eager for a change.

“It’s been a long spring/ winter,” she noted.

Lockdown didn’t halt their work, as the Plumber’s Wife has been making online sales.

Though it’s very time consuming and only a quarter of the store’s stock is able to be posted “it’s worth the work,” said Coffey.

The Plumber’s Wife is grateful for community support, knowing customers have supported the best they can.

Because of short notice there isn’t any special plans on opening day, but “we’ll be smiling with our eyes,” Coffey said.

Not all local stores are ready to open on June 11. Arthur Cash and Carry, for example, needs a little more time.

“We’re just taking an extra day to prepare,” said employee Sarah McCabe about the store’s June 12 reopening date.

McCabe explained curbside pickup has been busy during lockdown, and the store plans to continue running online orders as well.

“We’re excited to get people in the door,” said McCabe.