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East County retailers are split on welcoming customers inside stores to browse

COURTESY PHOTO: CELEBRATE ME HOME - McKenna Dover puts the finishing touches on a display at Celebrate Me Home in Troutdale. The store plans to open May 26.

Although some East County retail shops opened Friday after the state eased restrictions on retailers, many stores are waiting a bit longer to see how the coronavirus pandemic develops.

Nextt, a resale clothing store, opened at 10 a.m. sharp Friday, May 15, after Gov. Kate Brown said just the day before that non-essential retailers could open if they follow safety precautions.

"I'm super excited. We're glad to be back to normal," said Jana Volk, Nextt's owner.

"At first, I thought, it was kind of sudden. I'm not ready. But, we opened," she added.

Nextt, in the cluster of stores at Northwest Fairview Drive and Northeast Burnside Road in Gresham, plans to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Jana Volk (left), owner of Nexxt, the Gresham resale clothing shop, opened Friday morning, May 15, and she and her employees are ready for customers.

The store is following the required strict safety guidelines. Employees are wearing masks. Hand sanitizer is available and the store has gloves by request. Nextt has social distancing signs up reminding customers to stay 6 feet apart and fitting rooms will be sanitized after every use.

In the first hour of being open, Nextt already had one customer.

Some stores had been open on a limited basis before this, offering curbside pick up of merchandise ordered by phone or online.

Shoshonna Roberts, owner of Maggie Mae's Kids Bookshop in downtown Gresham, is still offering curbside pick up and delivery, but isn't planning on opening until June and that may be by appointment only.

"We're a small shop and it's difficult to maintain social distancing. We work with families and for the safety of everyone, we are not opening yet," she said.

First thing Friday morning one family showed up at Maggie Mae's, hoping to browse.

"We were their first stop after nine-and-a-half weeks of staying home. But, we aren't open, so we brought books out to the window to let them shop that way," she said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Alyse Wecker is masked up and ready to deliver orders curbside at Maggie Mae's Kids Bookshop. The bookstore, which also carries adult titles, is not expecting to open for browsing until next month.

Lynn Snodgrass, CEO of the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce is not surprised that some stores are hesitant to open.

"They don't want to do anything wrong. They have to get supplies," Snodgrass said.

Some supplies, such as hand sanitizer, are difficult to come by, she said.

"And what happens if they open and nobody comes?" Snodgrass wondered aloud.

"Decisions are being made by people that don't own a business," she added.

Celebrate Me Home and its related stores, on East Columbia River Highway on Troutdale's quaint shopping street, plans to open Tuesday, May 26.

But during the shut down, owner Mary Greenslade and her staff were busy. Greenslade used the time to revamp the business, not only freshening up the stores, but also improving the website and other chores.

"It's been a blessing," Greenslade said of the "extra" time they had to work on the store.

When the furniture and home store reopens, they'll be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. The cafe will be open for take out orders, but with only one employee working to maintain social distancing rules.

"We're taking baby steps before we go full bore," she said.

The re-openings are good for some employees.

Nextt brought back its five part-time workers. Celebrate Me Home will also bring back four or five part-time employees it had to lay off.

Accent On Attitude in downtown Gresham posted on its Facebook page that it was not planning on reopening Friday.

"We will remain closed with curbside pick up available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Depending on how the stats are affected, new cases, additional deaths, we will make our decision to reopen at a later date. Stay healthy, be safe," the accessories shop said.

Downtown Gresham's Gold Art Jewelry is also waiting a bit before reopening. The custom and fine jewelry store posted that it would open Wednesday, May 20, and would be open its regular hours 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. They have been open by appointment only during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

Said Gold Art: "Anxious to see your faces, we have missed you all. See you soon."


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