Main Street in this historic SC town reopens, but are customers ready to shop?

Posted at 10:07 AM, Apr 29, 2020

Main Street is not just the name of a road. Like in many places around the country, in Summerville, South Carolina, the street is the heart of the historic town.

“I've been here 13 years,” said Debbie Maccario, owner of Maggie Rose Boutique .

Maccario's store is one of the 30 million small businesses that make up the backbone of the American economy. The boutique had to close for almost a month because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“This is the worst business interruption I've ever experienced,” Maccario said.

When the governor allowed some non-essential businesses, like hers, to reopen, she felt a sense of relief and more.

“I was excited to be open,” she said. “I mean, to be able to physically be here and physically see people walk in and buy things.”

For now, though, her three employees remain furloughed. The foot traffic just isn’t back.

While some Main Streets around America are starting to slowly reopen, one question looms large: will people feel safe enough to venture back out and go shopping?

“That's the biggest challenge, right now, just having people not be afraid and know it's OK, because I've got all the sanitizers and everything you can wipe with, you know, all of it,” Maccario said.

Just across Main Street from the boutique sits the bookstore Main Street Reads .

“You're sort of like a pharmacist for reading,” said owner Shari Stauch.

Stauch had a different reaction to the governor allowing her store to reopen.

“Panic,” she said, with a chuckle. “Pure panic.”

She didn’t feel like her business was ready for a new coronavirus normal.

“I need equipment. I need to make sure that the gloves and the masks are here for my staff to protect them,” Stauch said, who is still waiting on orders for those items to arrive. “I need customers to be aware that they need to be in masks to protect our folks. We need to protect our customers, so we're going very, very slowly.”

Like at the boutique across the street, her employees aren’t back at work yet either. Both hope that might change later in May.

“Everybody's in this together,” Stauch said. “We'll get through it.”