Mt. Pleasant’s Downtown businesses begin to reopen, adapt

Downtown Mt. Pleasant began its journey to recently as restrictions lifted for local businesses.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced earlier this month that she would be moving the entire state of Michigan into Phase Four of the MI Safe Start Plan. The progression allowed restaurants, bars, and retail stores downtown to reopen in a larger capacity.

Upon hearing the news, Trillium owner Helen Chase spent hours studying what was required of her women’s clothing store for a potential reopening. Afterward, Chase and her employees walked the store looking for spots where foot traffic might hinder social distancing guidelines.

Trillium owner Helen Chase spent hours studying what was required of her women’s clothing store to reopen, and ensuring her store was set up to keep customers safe and comfortable. PC: Trillium Fine ClothingAfter rearranging the store and making aisles wider, Chase said the shop was ready to keep customers safe and comfortable while shopping.

Many other shops have done similarly.

“It has been wonderful to have distanced interactions with customers,” Chase says. “Our customers are returning saying, ‘We love and support you.’ Businesses downtown depend on that greatly.”

Mt. Pleasant City Planning Commission adopted a resolution that temporarily authorizes outdoor business activity to help businesses combat loss of space. PC: Ponder Coffee Company

Retail stores are not the only businesses working to adapt to change. Under Whitmer’s executive order, occupancy levels in restaurants, bars, and cafes are limited to 50%.

Mt. Pleasant City Planning Commission adopted a resolution that temporarily authorizes outdoor business activity to help businesses combat loss of space.

Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller said in a June 8 city commission meeting that the goal of the resolution is to assist business owners and property owners as they begin reopening.

Ponder Coffee Company is utilizing Broadway Street while its indoor seating is unavailable. Owner Christie Cromar says the shop has remained busy since reopening and has benefitted greatly from the additional space.

Ponder Coffee Company owner Christie Cromar says the shop has remained busy since reopening. PC: Ponder Coffee CompanyWhitmer’s executive order also includes new hygiene rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in salons and barbershops. This means — to the joy of many Mt. Pleasant residents — businesses providing personal care services were able to reopen on June 15.

Co-owner and stylist at Downstairs Salon and Boutique Serena Bentley says her salon has blocked off every other chair to adhere to social distancing guidelines and has increased sanitation.

Co-owner and stylist at Downstairs Salon and Boutique Serena Bentley says the salon is booked for weeks now that they have been able to reopen. PC: Downstairs Salon and BoutiqueWhile salons are open, Bentley stressed that it will be hard to find open appointments as every salon in the city are booked for about three weeks.

“We’ve been extremely busy and had to turn away five people just yesterday,” Bentley says. “We have our own regular customers that have needed a haircut or color, so we’re booked for weeks.

All three small business owners shared that it is more important than ever to shop local as stores across Mt. Pleasant begin to open their doors to customers again.

“After being shut down for so long, it is crazy to be open and able to see customers,” Chase said. “Local customers really are the blood of these local shops.”

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