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Rockford welcomes retail business back to downtown

Retail shops can once again open to public with limited capacity, after being closed for months.

ROCKFORD, Mich. — Starting Thursday, retail shops can reopen to the public without an appointment. They had been closed for months due to the pandemic. 

Rockford city and business leaders celebrated the reopening of their downtown business district by briefly shutting down Main Street and hosting a ribbon cutting and short parade. 

RELATED: Whitmer lifts Michigan's stay-at-home order

"It’s been mid-March since our businesses have been open to the public," said City Manager Thad Beard, "We’ve been working with them, and with The Chamber, to educated them on how to open up safely."

Even at limited capacity, Beard said it's exciting to see the lively downtown area busy with life and business once again. The celebration was to show support for the shop owners. 

Credit: 13 OYS
James Williams enjoys a shaved ice from The Sweet Tooth.

"We wanted them to know we’re behind them and trying to support them," said Beard, "This is to just put a smile on their face."

However, the past few months have been tough on local small businesses. Many are glad to be open to recover from months of being closed. 

"It’s important to all the people down here that have shops," said Candis Lancioni, the owner of Aunt Candy's Toy Company, "These are families, these are people who spend their lives doing what they love. And all of a sudden, it came to a screeching halt."

Lancioni said she hopes people return to shopping small, after relying on Amazon or big box stores during the pandemic. 

"We’re hoping and relying on the public and our normal customers to come back," said Lancioni, "share it with their friends and make it an every day normal thing."

Credit: 13 OYS
A sign asks customers to sanitize when entered LE Miller Boutique.

Shopping still wont be exactly what it once was, with social distancing and safety measures in place in stores. 

"Times have changed," said Lisa Miller, owner of LE Miller Boutique, "We have to have all of our precautions. We have sanitizers, masks, we ask people to wear them when they walk in. Just taking extra steps to try to keep everybody safe."

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