A semblance of normalcy
Myria Smallwood couldn’t wait to unlock Crystal Tuning’s front door and turn on the open sign Monday morning.
For weeks, the small mom-and-pop shop at 819 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs had been forced to dip into its reserves due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“If it lasts much longer and people don’t come back, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smallwood said.
Although Crystal Tuning certainly has a local following, like so many other businesses downtown, it still relies predominantly on tourists.
“It’s probably a good 80% of my business,” Smallwood said of the foot traffic generated by tourism. “It’s major. We have to have that to make it.”
The small business owner, however, was optimistic Crystal Tuning would make it through the crisis.
And, being allowed to actually have customers come inside her rock, crystal and gift shop again Monday was certainly a step in the right direction.
“I think Glenwood is going to rebound,” Smallwood said.
Gov. Jared Polis’ safer-at-home executive order allowed non-critical retail businesses like Crystal Tuning to reopen their interior space to customers May 1 as long as they maintain social distancing.
Non-critical retail businesses in Garfield County had to wait until May 4 to do so.
Local businesses also had to submit an online form to the county detailing how they would maintain social distancing requirements and a clean work environment.
Garfield County Public Health reported over 550 businesses had completed their plans online as of 5 p.m. Monday.
Russell Cabe, a retail and rental manager at Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop, said they had submitted their social distancing plan to the county and were actively following it.
Standing on circles placed at least 6 feet apart, a handful of customers waited in the bike shop’s parking lot to be helped Monday morning.
Cabe and other Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop employees were largely assisting customers in the parking lot and only bringing people inside if necessary.
“If we do need to bring someone into the shop we will now but we’re basically just escorting that person in with an employee,” Cabe said. “We’re only allowing one person or group in at a time — no more than five people.”
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Cabe said the shop had temporarily suspended bike rentals, possibly, until the end of May.
Nestled in the heart of downtown, Elizabeth Dean Boutique also reopened its interior space for business Monday.
According to owner Nicole Nelson, the boutique had been in the process of building an online store before the crisis and was currently ramping up those efforts.
“It definitely inspired me to get online,” Nelson said.
While the pandemic may have illustrated the benefits of online sales, for Nelson, her boutique’s physical location and the customers who walked in were still her top priority.
Nelson was confident that people would, once again, start making their way into her shop downtown.
“I don’t ever give up,” Nelson said.
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Aspen City Council is considering yet again to ask voters whether to repurpose Wheeler real estate transfer tax for another community use. The idea has been discussed dozens of times over the years by various councils.