July 09, 2020LITTLETON — Since early June, a small but significant sense of normalcy has returned to the Littleton region as restrictions lifted and business owners were allowed to reopen to the public. A month later, Main Street business owners have reported steady sales and a healthy stream of customers.
Main Street newcomer Shaun Terhune said his photographic art gallery saw record sales in June, despite being open only part-time for a portion of the month. He recently celebrated the first anniversary of his business, the Shaun Terhune Fine Art Gallery.
"Before the pandemic I was going through my first winter season as a store owner in Littleton. I was pleased with how many people were traveling to Littleton and the surrounding areas to shop, even during the wintertime. Then the pandemic hit," explained Terhune.
He continued, "I reopened as soon as I was legally allowed. That meant that I was among the first stores in town to reopen. I started to see people come to town to shop and they found that many of the stores they normally shop at were closed. That helped drive business through my doors in early June."
While White Mountain Canning Company owner Dan DeMoras didn't experience record-breaking sales, he happily reported a slight uptick in recent weeks when compared to last year. He said he used the time his business was closed to develop new product lines and focus on his wholesale and eCommerce business.
"Since the end of June, we've seen a bump in business and a lot more people are coming out now. it's nice to see people getting out and finding some kind of a new normal. With all of the regulations that we have to follow because we are a food processor that's open to the public, it's definitely been a challenge to meet all of the hurdles," explained DeMoras.
Guaranteeing that his business had enough personal protective gear for both staff and customers while the nation faced shortages was the biggest challenge DeMoras said he met.
"Between three different corporate companies, we waited three to five weeks to get hand sanitizer and signage for the floors," he said.
DeMoras continued, "We will be okay in the long haul. You have to diversify. You need to be able to pivot, find what you weren't doing before and figure out how to make it better. For us, it was our online presence. Now we ship our products all over the country."
Little Village Toy and Bookstore owner Clare Brooks said, "We've done pretty well. We are going to continue requiring masks and sanitizers to enter. Some have taken issue with it, but I believe it is the safest way to remain open and keep our little Main Street going.
Brooks continued, "If we get spikes, they will shut everything down again, and that hurts everyone. We are far from out of the woods yet and doing our best to stretch every dollar as we see what the coming months bring."
When asked how sales had been since reopening to the public, Brooks reported a steady stream of customers.
She said, "The tourists and our regulars are really helping get us back on our feet. We have had quite an influx of visitors from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and Maine."
League of New Hampshire Craftsmen store owner Beth Simon echoed other business owners when she said the holiday weekend had been good for her business.
"With Independence Day, if it's nice out people aren't generally shopping. Even though we had good weather, there were still many people around," she noted.
Simon used to operate her business seven days a week but has maintained a five-day-a-week schedule since reopening in late May. While the League Store typically sees a spike at this time of year from the wedding industry, she said that business channel isn't in place this year.
When asked if she felt optimistic about the local business economy, Simon said it changed daily.
"The holiday weekend was good. People were appreciative of coming into the gallery. But I don't know if it will be sustained, especially if there's another wave and people can't travel. It will have a major impact on my business. I am taking it day by day," she said.
Terhune echoed Simon's thoughts.
"There's always this specter of a recession if this pandemic carries on for an extended period. Nobody knows what's going to happen. If we can remain even partially open, people are adjusting to what we expect in terms of conduct in retail stores and restaurants. Overall, I am very optimistic. With a place as wonderful as the White Mountains, people will continue to come here if they can," he noted.