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More Wisconsin retailers reopen, calls to support local businesses grow

Posted at 4:53 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 20:20:45-04

More retailers opened their doors Tuesday after the state took another step towards relaxing the safer at home order.

"We were here first thing this morning ready to go, couldn’t be more thrilled," said stylist Tabatha Dirubba.

Dirubba works at SoHo Boutique by Stephanie Horne in Milwaukee's Third Ward. The owner started welcoming customers back to the store less than 24 hours after Governor Tony Evers announced new guidelines for small businesses. Retailers can have a maximum of 5 customers in the store at a time while social distancing and continuing increased cleaning.

"We have hand sanitizer. We moved the credit card machines. We are not allowed to have more than five people in the store so I’m booking appointments to kind of spread everybody out in case people come in and walk in," said Tabatha.

The women's clothing boutique closed March 15. The owner created an online shopping outlet helping them stay afloat.

Customer Ann Giuliani says it felt nice to feel a little normal. She is intentionally focused on supporting local businesses.

"It’s not like it used to be where people would just walk by and stop in and pick something up. Now you have to really consider your options and is it worth going out and for me this morning it was," said Ann.

"I think we’re coming back stronger," said Kari Earlier, owner of the Olive Branch Boutique on Main in Menomonee Falls.

Kari feels a little more relief now that she can take down this sign that says "we will be back."

Small businesses begin to welcome customers back into their stores

"It’s good to be back and I look forward to seeing all of those faces again, even like yesterday my phone was like blowing up. You get to open and you get to open it's so exciting," said Kari.

For Kari, the past few weeks have been tough but customers have helped, many of them buying gift certificates. She is grateful to open her doors again, yet cautiously optimistic about the upcoming months.

"I hope my shop is booming. I hope that this doesn’t come back in fall, fourth quarter because that’s our biggest time for holiday," said Kari.

"It’s unfortunate that this has happened but I think it’s made us realize how important it is that we all work together through this whole pandemic," said Tracy Brachmann who was shopping at Olive Branch Boutique on Main.

For so many, the call to support local businesses is more important now than ever.

"It’s heartbreaking. We want to build Milwaukee up. We want to make sure that everyone comes out strong,' said Tabatha.

Some retail store owners say they are waiting to reopen as they working on protocols to keep staff and customers safe.

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