Not All NH Business Owners Are Eager to Reopen on Monday

Attitudes ran the gamut at Portsmouth's Market Square Friday, with one gallery owner summing it up like this: "We're trying to do everything as careful because we don’t want a resurgence"

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The next phase of reopening New Hampshire goes into effect Monday, when salons, barbershops and retail stores can open their doors at 50% capacity.

Portsmouth's Market Square is packed with mom and pop shops, whose owners are about split between looking forward to the start of the week and thinking it is too much, too soon.

Inside Jane Gee’s natural skincare shop on Congress Street, there’s not a lot of room for social distancing, so for now, she’s keeping her doors closed.

“I think it’s too soon and I value the lives of my employees and my community,” Gee said in an interview on Friday.

A block away at Gus and Ruby Letterpress, co-owner Samantha Finigan said opening while the stay-at-home order is still in place doesn’t make sense financially.

“There’s a huge cost of having a store up and running,” she explained. “And then to not have the business to support it, it would cost us more than staying closed and continuing to run our e-commerce store.”

An official proposal for reopening New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach from the coronavirus stay-at-home order is being prepared for Gov. Chris Sununu’s review.

Reopening is certainly easier for other shops that have more space, like Kilwin’s. Owner Janette Desmond is preparing for a limited number of customers Monday.

“I absolutely feel very fortunate,” she said. “We reconfigured the interior of the store so there is one logical way in and one way out.”

And she’s asking shoppers to use what’s provided at the sanitizing station.

“We’re offering free gloves and masks for all customers,” Desmond added.

You’ll find the same sanitizing station as soon as you walk into the Kennedy Gallery around the corner.

“I am excited but I’m nervous at the same time,” said owner Wendy Clement.

Starting Monday, Clement is staggering shifts for employees and allowing only 3-5 people in the store at once.

“We’re trying to do everything as careful because we don’t want a resurgence,” she said. “We want to open but we want to do it as safely as possible.”

For the business owners who aren’t reopening Monday, they’re focusing on online sales and hope to welcome back customers by the beginning of June.

Restaurants along New Hampshire's seacoast are preparing for the next phase of the state's reopening, one that will allow them to serve customers outdoors.
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