During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close their doors indefinitely, leaving local owners struggling to know exactly where to turn for help.
Governor Ned Lamont ordered all “non-essential” businesses to close by 8 p.m. on Monday, March 23, and stay closed until April 22, unless otherwise notified.
One Cheshire business, Olive & Henry, a fine foods grocer located on the lower level of The Watch Factory Shoppes, was faced with a difficult decision: with their grand opening scheduled to take place right as the statewide shutdowns were beginning, the new business owners had to decide whether to postpone or move forward.
Though their grand celebration was delayed indefinitely, Olive & Henry has still opened for business.
“We knew we weren’t going to do a big grand opening, but we wanted to open for people who have been anxiously awaiting our opening and have been supporting us from the beginning,” said Caroline Dircks, co-owner of Olive & Henry. “The people of Cheshire have really come out and supported us so nicely.”
Dircks, and her husband Chris, decided to open Olive & Henry because they felt Cheshire was lacking in terms of fine food options.
“There is no store like this in Cheshire,” Dircks mentioned. “We wanted to open up when we did because we knew people were waiting on us and we didn’t want to disappoint.”
As a new business opening during an uncertain time, Dircks was worried about how to draw customers during a period when the government is requiring that social distancing protocols be implemented over the next several weeks. However, Dircks has been surprised at the level of support shown by the Cheshire community.
“We actually did a lot better than expected last week,” Dircks recalled. “People are coming out to buy cheeses and meats, along with coffee and pastries. Some people are holding virtual parties and are buying our cheeses to host these online parties with their friends.”
Dircks also noticed that people are choosing to come into her smaller store to beat the long lines and crowds at the bigger box stores such as Stop & Shop and Big Y.
“We’re selling out of things like breads, pastas, and peanut butters because people don’t want to go to the big stores and risk being in the crowds or them being out of stock,” she added. “People feel more comfortable with being in our smaller store that may only have two or three people inside, rather than the bigger stores where there could be 50 to 60 people in line and walking around.”
Olive & Henry, like all other businesses that have stayed open during this time, is adhering to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations of sanitizing between customers and washing hands regularly, in order to ensure safety for all.
“We have been cleaning like crazy in order to make sure everything is safe for everyone,” Dircks said. “Because if we get sick, then we’ll really have to close down.”
Luckily for Olive & Henry, because of the business’s small size, they don’t have to worry as much about paying employees. Dircks and her husband are the only two who work there.
“We’re doing what we can and taking it day by day, week by week,” she noted. “It’s all we can do.”