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'Extremely excited': Retail store owners thrilled to reopen to customers

Posted at 5:47 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 18:47:13-04

MILWAUKEE — Governor Tony Evers announced Monday that he is allowing standalone and strip mall-based retail stores to immediately reopen with social distancing guidelines in place.

Small business owners TMJ4 News spoke with Monday were ecstatic to learn they’d be able to serve customers in person.

“This is everything that I’ve ever owned,” said Elite Boutique owner Christopher Umbra.

Umbra feared he wouldn’t be able to reopen his clothing store on Milwaukee’s north side until at least June.

“Every crumb, every cent, every dime has went into Elite,” he said.

Umbra was pleasantly surprised Monday afternoon that he can immediately restock his shelves and welcome back up to 5 customers at a time.

“I’m extremely excited, like I can’t stop smiling,” Umbra said.

Gov. Evers said this loosening of restrictions is geared toward small retail shops that had been shuttered since late March.

“This is a huge number of not only businesses, about 14,000 in this state but also 90,000 people that work there,” Gov. Evers said.

At Winkie’s in Whitefish Bay, arts and crafts customers had been exclusively served through parking lot pick up and delivery. That’s already changed since Gov. Evers’ announcement.

“We literally chatted for about 5 seconds about it and went and opened the doors,” said co-owner Beth Stuhlmacher.

Stuhlmacher said employees will wear masks whenever customers are inside. Frequent patron John Schreiber said he plans to do the same.

“I’d feel safe going in, probably wear a mask for now, but I think it’s a good thing,” Schreiber said.

Gov. Evers said this scaling back of restrictions applies to retail stores that provide final products rather than services. Hair salons and barber shops are supposed to remain closed.

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