NEENAH, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — The day Tina Palmer looked forward to for months arrived Tuesday.
And it felt great.
“Seeing that first customer? Amazing,” she said. “It was amazing to be able to say, ‘Good morning. Welcome,’ in person. ”
Palmer is owner of Red Door Mercantile in downtown Neenah. Her traditional retail operation - like most others - was closed during the shutdown. She turned to Facebook, Instagram and a no-contact pickup service to keep the business operating.
She was finally able to reopen this week — with a few changes.
Hand sanitizer and masks greet customers when they walk in — the masks are required. You’ll find Palmer and her staff of one also wearing masks.
She’s taking those changes in stride.
“It’s a little bit of a new normal, but if that’s all that required of us to have a new normalcy, an actual normal day, that’s not that much,” she said.
And customers are coming back.
On her second day back, three people were eagerly looking at products in the store just minutes after the doors opened.
“Our customers, they believe in us, sometimes more than we believe in ourselves,” Palmer said. “It isn’t going to be business as usual for a while so we have to adjust. Everyone has to make adjustments.”
Many businesses are facing challenges right now. Almost 40 million Americans have sought unemployment in the past two months and there’s a growing list of small — and large — businesses that are either closed for good or trimming their operations.
To help support small downtown businesses like Red Door Mercantile, O’Connor Connective - a De Pere marketing and communications firm - expanded its Downtown Faces Forward social media campaign to the Fox Valley.
Working with local photographers and videographers, the initiative is designed to highlight the people behind the businesses that line the main streets of cities near Green Bay and Appleton.
“We have strength together,” Palmer said about participating in the program. “And to encourage our fellow business owners to know they are not alone, that we’re all there for each other.”