Coronavirus slowing store traffic in Westport, but owners optimistic
WESTPORT — Coronavirus-related restrictions may have significantly slowed foot traffic on Main Street this week, but most area shopkeepers are keeping up their spirits.
“As of right now, business is as usual,” said Rosa Judge, key leader at Lululemon. “We have no plans of closing.”
Like many others, however, adjustments are being made — among them an increased cleaning protocol, renewed focus on online services and, in some cases, curbside delivery for the foreseeable future.
The town’s first positive case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was confirmed by the state Public Health Laboratory on Thursday, according to the Westport-Weston Health District.
The patient is a woman between the ages of 40 and 50 and is recovering at home. It remains unclear how she contracted the virus.
For Lululemon, Wednesday morning marked the official opening of the store’s new location south of the old store on Main Street. But turnout was, understandably, not as high as originally anticipated due to virus fears.
“We’d love to see everyone if they’d love to come down,” Judge said, noting they’re open every day and fully staffed.
“We’re a little slow,” said Sarah O’Brien, assistant manager at Vineyard Vines. “We’re not seeing as much foot traffic on Main Street,” nor the numbers of cars typical on a Friday afternoon.
Ironically, those who have come in have been spending more time visiting and talking about the unique situation facing the town and world.
“We’re having more conversations than usual,” said O’Brien, with parents, school teachers, and those temporarily on leave from New York City-based jobs among the daytime traffic stopping to chat.
And when they’re not chatting, she said of her coworkers, they’re cleaning.
“We’re doing extensive cleaning every three hours,” she said, along with regularly wiping down everything that gets regular contact, from door handles to pin pads.
Like some other stores, O’Brien said, they’re also offering convenient curbside delivery for items people may want, in the event they’re not feeling comfortable getting out of their cars.
If people call Rye Ridge Deli directly, owner Scott Martin said, they’re forgoing the usual delivery charges at the moment in the hopes of encouraging customers.
“For whatever reason, my other two locations (Ryebrook, N.Y., and Stamford) are totally normal,” he said, “but for this one everyone seems to be reluctant to go out.”
Stil, Friday afternoon saw visitors getting food to go, as well as diners at some of his tables, but not the usual crowd, Martin said.
“I hope it doesn’t stay like this,” he said. “I hope people come back out again.”
“It seems like Main Street’s afraid almost,” observed Mike Logan, partner with New England Hemp Farm.
“Online sales seem to be going up as the retail sales are going down,” he said, noting that people are also placing larger orders, both in store and online. “You can tell some people are going to be hunkering in for a couple of weeks.”