During the past couple of months, things were quiet in the streets of Sandpoint. Now, “Closed” signs are flipping to “Open” and business owners are excited to greet their customers again. This was made possible by the rebound plan that Idaho’s Governor, Brad Little, instilled to help businesses and communities get back on their feet. As cases of Covid-19 begin to decline and people are starting to gather again, the Sandpoint community has been given a taste of normalcy.
Some businesses such as retail stores chose to open during stage one of Idaho’s reopening plan, which began on May 1st. Bella Terra Boutique was one of these stores. Owner Kimberly Stocking explained that she opened up as soon as she could and her boutique has been doing great. “I had tears in my eyes when I opened my doors on Friday, May 1st for the first time in 7-8 weeks and my first few shoppers that came through that door.” Stocking said, “I was grateful to have people come back in and shop and support.” The Boutique has been blessed with plenty of customers, both local and from neighboring states.
Stocking was concerned about how her boutique would fare since she had made a large order, not knowing that her shop would have to close and that several events that bring in tourists had been cancelled. Despite her concerns, Stocking said that everything happening had delivered a positive outcome for her business. She explained that people have missed the tangible shopping experience and are starting to come out into the community again, which has benefitted Bella Terra greatly.
The second stage began on May 16th allowing other businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, and gyms to reopen. One restaurant nestled on Cedar St., Eichardt’s Pub and Grill, has made the most of their time during closure. Employee Nick Nizzoli explained that management focused on deep cleaning and planning for rearranging their building while the restaurant was closed. He shared that Eichardt’s had given out free tostadas once a week to support community members in partner with the Eureka Institute. This program allowed people to receive a meal free of cost and supported local businesses.
Nizzoli said that since opening up the restaurant for seating, they now have a position called a “host and sanitization captain” who is responsible for making sure that everything is clean and customers are seated at tables which are appropriately distanced from each other. He explained that Eichardt’s management decided that their staff would not wear masks and gloves because it is not comfortable or welcoming, and that they believe their establishment would be healthier without them. “We decided that no gloves and adamant hand washing was a better option because gloves provide a false sense of security,” Nizzoli said. The employees are checked to make sure they are not sick and have not been exposed to anyone who is sick when they come to work. “If our guests can’t [wear a mask] and our staff is healthy there is no advantage to wearing a mask.” He explained that the staff wanted the restaurant’s image to be a “a smiling face” rather than an impersonal one covered by a mask.
Sandpoint is starting to reopen and reconvene just in time for summer. A lot is still up in the air, but hopefully the community will continue to make progress to resume activities and events. This week, Idaho will enter the third stage of reopening allowing other venues and facilities to open. You can find out more about the steps for reopening Idaho is taking at rebound.idaho.gov.