Despite pandemic, some Stanly businesses have recently reopened

While most businesses deemed nonessential in Stanly County are eagerly waiting to reopen, a few — including Albemarle Marketplace, Pee Dee Outfitters and Hobby Lobby — already have.

Albemarle City Manager Michael Ferris said that while Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order in March established which essential businesses, such as restaurants and grocery stores, could still operate, “what most people do not understand is it also says that businesses that are not on the essential list but comply with the social distancing requirement and the maximum number of people per square foot can remain open.”

Christy Wood, owner of Albemarle Marketplace, said her business initially shut down in mid-March and remained closed for several weeks, though the business, due to its social media, did conduct online sales and allowed customers to pick up items via curbside delivery.

While at home, Wood, who has owned the consignment shop for 14 years, said she was “very worried” that her business would not survive the pandemic. Even if she could open again, she had concerns about traffic flow and if customers would even feel comfortable entering.

Once she felt like things had relatively calmed down, she decided to try — though not before calling Mayor Ronnie Michael’s office, where she received guidelines about what she needed to do in order to reopen.

Wood’s first day back at the shop was April 22. She said all of her vendors also came back. The store’s hours are now 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, the shop is limited to five customers per 1,000 square feet, but because Albemarle Marketplace is so big, Wood said she can safely have 100 people in the store at a time. Other measures include one-way aisles, people staying six feet apart and people wearing masks, which Wood now sells.

Wood said business has been “very busy.” Once the store reopened, “I think we went right back into regular flow of traffic,” she said.

Pee Dee Outfitters reopened its Albemarle store, along with its other three locations, on April 22.

“We are aware that COVID-19 is still prevalent in our communities, but we have carefully considered this decision and will proceed with all the necessary precautions in place,” the business posted on its Facebook page announcing the decision.

Besides encouraging people to stay six feet apart, the store is restricting the number of customers to five people at a time. The store’s hours are also limited: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. While the business accepts cash, it encourages customers to use a debit or credit card if possible to limit contact.

The Hobby Lobby location in Albemarle, along with those in Statesville, Hickory and Mooresville, reopened April 22. Though the arts and crafts chain was not considered an essential business, it reached out to the N.C. Department of Revenue to request to be included as such.

The NCDOR sent a letter, which The Stanly News and Press obtained a copy of, to Hobby Lobby’s headquarters in Oklahoma City, Okla. April 14. Though NCDOR denied Hobby Lobby’s request to be considered an essential business, it permitted the business to operate its stores provided each location abide by the safety regulations laid out in Cooper’s executive orders, such as staying six feet apart and adhering to capacity restrictions.

The store is open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.