By Wilson Walker

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Bookstores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, antique stores, a wide range of businesses in Sonoma County were eligible to open their doors Friday. It appeared that a lot of business owners were taking a careful approach on the first day of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening of business.

“That’s fair,” says Kathy Jeter, owner of Ethical Clothing. “I think a lot of us are still here, in our shops, to answer the phones and emails.”

As a clothing store owner, Jeter could have opened her doors Friday, but she did not. And across town, plenty of eligible businesses appear to have made the same decision.

“It’s hard to find exact information about what we are allowed to do and what we are not allowed to do,” Jeter says. “And so I have just kind of been laying low and waiting.”

“Some of the employees are thrilled to get out of the house and come back,” said Rick Lewis, owner of Gold Rush Jewelers. “Some are just a little bit nervous.”

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Lewis was trying to open up his jewelry stores Friday, but it meant triple-checking rules and doing anything and everything to make his employees comfortable.

“They found these on eBay, a company out of Maryland had them,”  Lewis says of the plastic dividing walls he was setting up on his counters. “I shipped them three days, they got here this morning.”

Lewis’s main frustration: he has to limit customers to two at a time, while the business next door – a grocery store – is a constant flow of countless people.

“You go into a crowded store, even with all of the protocols, they are still a crowd of people in them,” Lewis says. “The rules don’t all make sense.”

To avoid complications, some store owners have just decided to evolve.

“We are trying to minimize all of that as much as possible,” said Tali, owner of Flower Casita who preferred to use one name. “We don’t allow any foot traffic into our shop. The only people that come in here are our staff.”

Flower Casita is effectively an all-delivery business now so they can focus on larger problems.

“So for us, our biggest concern is the economy,” Tali says. “Are people going to want, or have the money simply. to buy flowers?”

So in Sonoma County day one of Phase 2 came with a good bit of uncertainty.

“It’s hard to weigh out, maybe we haven’t been hit that hard because we’ve been doing this,” Jeter said of the lockdown. “And so I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”

 

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