By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(May 21, 2020) The town of Berlin is seeing several restaurants and small businesses tentatively reopen now that Gov. Larry Hogan has lifted his stay-at-home order and allowed some facets of normal life to resume.
Excluding sit-down restaurants, gyms, playgrounds, theaters and large gathering events, many businesses are beginning to resume selling their merchandise with limited capacity after two months of inactivity.
For some businesses, like Sisters on 113 North Main Street, the news is relieving.
“We haven’t had any business because of the virus [in the past two months],” owner Donna Compher said. “The scary part is recovery. When you’re down two months of income, that’s a big deal.”
Compher, who runs a boutique that also sells wine and beer, attempted to apply for several grants, unemployment, and the PPP loan, to no avail. She reopened her store last Friday at 5 p.m., which is when the governor allowed small businesses to resume operations.
The store will now be open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sisters will also be open during the Berlin Farmers Market held on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“If locals don’t support us, then we won’t be here,” Compher said. “If they want to see the Main Street mom-and-pop operations, which is about 90 percent of the country, the locals really need to come out and support us more than ever before. It’s crucial at this point. I hope locals see how much we need them now.”
For more information about Sisters, call 443-513-4158.
Other enterprises, like the Church Mouse Thrift Store on 101 North Main Street, is relieved to be open so it can resume helping the community.
“The purpose of Church Mouse is to reach out to people in need in the community, so we’re glad to get back up and running and see all of our clients and customers and continue do to the outreach that we have committed to over 50 years,” Coordinator Helen Wiley said.
“The donations that we get … we can turn that around and give things to organizations in need in our community such as Diakonia, the Spirit Kitchen, Jesse Klump Memorial Fund, Believe in Tomorrow, all those organizations and we’re just excited to be open and keep that going.”
Now that the store is open again, it will be operating tentatively from Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will attempt to be open during the farmers market, though hours will vary.
The store will now be limited to two people inside at any time and all customers must wear masks. Donations must be done through appointments only and can be arranged by calling Wiley at 443-513-6655 or through email at Helenbuttercup@verizon.net.
The Treasure Chest jewelry store owner Terri Sexton, is being “cautiously optimistic.”
“People are happy to see the businesses growing … it’s giving them something to do,” she said. “We rely on our customers more than the big box stores. We also miss our customers and they miss us.”
The 20 North Main Street store will remain open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offer store hours during the farmers market from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, call 410-641-0333.
Susan Ayres Wimbrow, who owns the Greyhound Bookstore and Fine Arts Gallery on 9 South Main Street, reopened her store on Saturday and had customers from open to close.
“It was phenomenal, patrons were here when we opened to when we closed … we had a great day,” she said. “We need to thrive again as a local, small town and only people that come in to shop will help us again. We are grateful for being open and we thank everyone for coming in to see us again.”
As an 800-square-foot store, customers will be limited to 10 people and everyone must wear a mask. The bookstore will be open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting after Memorial Day Weekend.
For more information, call the Greyhound Bookstore and Fine Arts Gallery at 410-641-0291.
Also reopening to the public is Bruder Hill and Bruder Home on 25 Commerce Street, which encourages owner Shelley Bruder.
“People are so excited to get out and shop and it’s great,” Bruder said. “They’re coming out with their families. Everyone has been very respectful and it’s been really nice.”
Both stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will be limited to 10 people at a time. Patrons must also wear masks to encourage social distancing.
For more information, call 410-629-1260.
Closer to Town Hall, Beach Gypsy on 15 William Street is looking forward to seeing new and old faces after being closed for just under two months, especially having just relocated to Berlin.
“As a store that just moved into a brand-new location and had just barely been open for a little over a month, it’s challenging,” co-owner Christine Carpenter said. “We’re really testing the waters all over again … we have no idea when it’s going to start booming again.”
The boutique and yoga studio has postponed its classes, but is now once again reopened from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 12-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and also during the farmers market on Sundays.
For more information about Beach Gypsy, call 410-973-2557.
Beyond just boutiques and other small businesses, restaurants in the area are beginning to reopen as well, albeit as carryout and delivery services only.
Fins Ale House and Restaurant, which has been closed for several months, is expected to reopen tentatively on Friday with a carryout menu available.
Also reopened for business is DiFebo’s Restaurant on 104 North Main Street, which will be offering contactless carryout. The restaurant has been a part of the town of Berlin for the past three years.
“Berlin is a cool little town with a great vibe and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Owner Jeff Osias said. “It’s very dialed in to small businesses. Ivy Wells does a great job.”
Osias heard about small businesses being allowed to reopen and realized now would be a great time to get in some “muscle memory” to help keep his restaurant running.
“With to-go service, people pull up, open their trunks, we put everything in and everything is paid by credit card before they get here so it’s a contactless pickup,” he said. “We’re happy for those that support us and can’t wait for this to be behind us.”
DiFebo’s will be open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. In addition, DiFebo’s will sell meatballs, tomato sauce, its spicy olive oil, breads and even some desserts outside its doors during the farmers market on Sundays.
For more information about DiFebo’s, call 410-629-0550.