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Rebuilding America: Shawnee stores, businesses adapt to reopening phases

Elisabeth Slay
Dogs and their owners visiting residents at nursing homes outside their rooms.

As Shawnee and surrounding areas continue the beginning phases of reopening, local mom and pop shops continue to adapt to social distance shopping and safe policies to protect customers against the spread of COVID-19.

Several stores in the community, including Vintage Depot and T-Box Antiques and Things have reopened after being closed for several weeks.

According Kimberly Rogers, owner of Vintage Depot, she, like many other business owners, has opened her doors, but has added necessary safety measures against the pandemic.

"We have basic cleaning procedures and offer hand sanitizer to each customer and customers can wear masks at their discretion," Rogers said.

Vintage Depot, Rogers said, had been closed since the end of March, although she offered curbside service and market place sales during that time.

However, similar to other stores, Vintage Depot reopened Friday, May 1, and since then several customers have returned.

"We've had a steady flow of people excited to be out and about shopping again," Rogers said.

As time goes on, Rogers will monitor the situation and continue to take the necessary measures to ensure everyone's safety in her store.

T-Box Antiques and Things also opened its doors to the public on Monday, May 4.

According to owner Heather Hulsey, since T-Box Antiques has reopened, many of its customers have returned and she's grateful for their support.

Hulsey said to maintain everyone's safety, she constantly sanitizes the store and wipes down its doors when new people leave or enter the building.

In addition, Hulsey said she's only allowing 10 customers to enter her store at a time and people can wear masks if they feel the need.

The business owner said she will continue to take the proper safety measures so that members of the community can continue to shop.

Both Hulsey and Rogers said they are glad to be back in business and hope their safety methods and caution will prevent them from having to shut their businesses down again.

In addition to antique stores such as Vintage Depot and T-Box Antiques, other local businesses such as the Doggie Spot also reopened certain aspects of their business.

According to owner Khara Schuetzner, while she was able to stay open as an essential business because she sells dog food, Schuetzner said she had to shut down her in-person training sessions for dogs.

However, Schuetzner said she offered online courses and continues that as she has been able to reopen and return to in-person classes.

During this pandemic, Schuetzner said clients of the Doggie Spot and their dogs have visited local nursing homes and visited with residents through windows to help cheer up those being kept safe inside.

Similar to the Doggie Spot, the Shawnee Mall has also reopened its doors and shoppers are able to visit several stores that have also decided to reopen.

According to Director of Marketing Mindy Mew-Palmer, the Shawnee Mall asks guests to wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash their hands and practice all other safety measures recommended by the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We're regulating our hours to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. — this allows our housekeeping and cleaning staff time for deep cleaning," Mew-Palmer said.

In addition to wearing masks and staying six feet apart, Mew-Palmer said the mall is also requesting that guests not shop in groups larger than 10.

Mew-Palmer said all of these policies and information are posted on the doors of the mall and throughout the shopping center.

Since the mall reopened its doors, Mew-Palmer said there has been a steady flow of customers who are aware and have been respecting the polices the mall has implemented.

Mew-Palmer said out of the 50 or so stores in the mall, about 28 of them have reopened.

The latest list includes: Anthony David Salon (By appointment only. Call 395-0550), Buffalo Wild Wings, Chuck Wagon Western Decor, City Wireless, Dunham's Sports, Health Markets, Hibbett Sports, JoAnn's Fabrics, Journey's, Kohl's, Kool Stuff, LA Nails (By appointment only. Call 405-273-6399), Life Care Massage (By appointment only. Call 281-760-9476), Living Word Bookstore, Natural Nails (By appointment only. Call 405-273-5151), Rialto's Pizza, Sakura (For pickup only), Santa Fe, Cattle Co., Sears Hometown, Shoe Dept./ENCORE, Sportsline Nutrition, Verizon and Why Not Travel.

Mew-Palmer said the Shawnee Mall appreciates its customers and will offer new information regarding COVID-19 to people as it becomes available.

For updates visit the Shawnee Mall Facebook page.

Overall, as Shawnee and surrounding communities continue through their phases of reopening, local businesses and establishments continue to adapt to the new normal.