Many St. Charles Parish residents are enjoying a small sense of normalcy as several of their favorite businesses and restaurants are reopening after coronavirus-related closures.
Angelle LeBlanc, who owns Cherry Lane Boutique with her sister Nealie Savoie, said re-opening the doors Monday to the Luling shop was a relief.
Since its closure on March 27, LeBlanc said the shop has survived on website and phone orders, Facebook Live sales and a whole lot of hustle from herself and other employees.
“We managed to limp through the close down and paid our bills,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve never worked so hard for nothing.”
Turning a profit again is a top priority for the store, and LeBlanc said it will be done as safely as possible.
“All employees are wearing masks,” she said, “and we’re asking customers to wear a mask.”
Hand sanitizer stations are available, and the store will continue to offer curb-side pick-up.
“I don’t think that’s something well change anytime soon,” LeBlanc said of the car delivery service.
“The past few days have been surprisingly and pleasantly steady,” she said. “You see people come in and they’re excited to have the opportunity to come in and shop.”
Until further notice, LeBlanc said the store is capping capacity at 10 people, which includes the three employees working in the store.
Kristi Brocato, owner of The Basketry, has a slightly different strategy at her Luling store. The shop is allotting 45-minute shopping appointments to customers who call 504-309-7935.
“After six weeks of being extremely busy in gift production and delivery, we felt that opening by appointment only would give the back some relief, especially during Mother’s Day week,” she said. “We haven’t slowed down one bit and customers have responded very positively to our appointment shopping.”
Brocato said the current arrangement has not only limited visitors but has allowed both employees and customers a positive and safe shopping experience.
“We will reopen next week with a customer limit and we will follow all safety protocols,” she said. “Small businesses have the ability to adapt and thrive in hard times … I am not sure when we will reopen without limits, but we will know when it’s time.”
Katie Hymel, owner and chef of Honeydoux Cafe and Bakery in Destrehan, said her decision to reopen on Monday with the limited hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. was one made for many reasons.
“We missed our customers,” she said. “The demand for us to come back was high, and in all honesty, we couldn’t afford to stay closed much longer.”
Hymel said in the few days since reopening, the bakery has been doing well.
“Business is definitely not where it was before, but we are hopeful that business will slowly pick up,” she said. “I would like to say a huge thank you to all of our customers that have supported us during this time … I know this is a hard time for everyone, but it means the world to me to have my customers supporting us in any way they can.”
Hymel urged residents to support local establishments whenever they can.
“I know this is a hard and uncertain time, but I have faith that with everyone following the guidelines and taking every precaution that we will back and better than ever,” she said.