Forty Winks Bed and Bath opened its new location and is still in business, but I couldn’t interview owner Stephanie Swisher because the family is enjoying a big family milestone. The National Hotel remains closed and when I tried to e-mail the general manager, my e-mail bounced back as undeliverable. So, I talked with Jeannette McDonald of Gifted to learn what’s happening on Main Street.
McDonald said the atmosphere on Main Street today is hopeful. “I think many of us business owners are tired and just happy to have made it through this past year,” she said. “We’re hopeful and very eagerly looking forward to getting back to business.”
When I took a walk down Main Street, there were more than a few people walking up and down the sidewalks, most wearing masks. McDonald noted that most people are being respectful when it comes to wearing masks, perhaps because they seem happier. “The customers seem hopeful that things might be returning to a sense of normal,” she said. For her part, McDonald added, “we have ‘thank you for wearing your mask’ signs on our front door and we wipe down high-touch areas regularly.”
With Amador County now in the orange public health tier, the city will hold its first event on Main Street in over a year. This Saturday, the city will block off Main Street for the annual Motherlode Car Show produced by Motherlode Cruisers. Though Main Street will be full of classic cars and full of people, McDonald is a bit nonplussed.
“Personally, I don’t care for the car show,” she explained. “Every year, I have to plead with car owners to quit sitting in front of my door or stop blocking the sidewalk with their chairs and picnic gear.” Even so, she added, “I’m happy to have any event return to Main Street. If it helps any of our businesses have a good sales day, I’m here for it.”
Another Turn of the Wheel
The walk down Main Street showed that Main Street continues to change with or without the pandemic. Forty Winks Bed and Bath moved into its new location at 210 North Main Street. PMZ Real Estate and The Spot Smoke Vape Shop have left their spaces, but a new hair salon is in the process of replacing Mountain House Coffee and Luka’s Restaurant reopened at the end of April.
Like Forty Winks, Gifted had to physically relocate during the pandemic. “Our shop flooded right before the COVID-19 shutdown last year and we had to move our location,” McDonald explained. “We’re up the street now next to Brickhouse Brews, and I really love our new space!” The old space at 8 Main Street is still vacant as of this writing.
She also took the opportunity to expand her website store during the pandemic. “Our online business definitely picked up a bit during the pandemic,” she said. “It turned out to be a great way for our customers to help support us during quarantine. Many of our regulars were very committed to helping during the shutdowns and they made a point of shopping online with us.”
Though McDonald is getting more in-store traffic these days, she’ll keep selling online. “We plan to keep and expand our web store even more,” she added. “Online traffic has definitely subsided a bit and we’re in the middle of setting up a new site, so it’s a bit of a mess right now.”
Shop Often, Safely
McDonald doesn’t know about any other Main Street events being planned beyond the Motherlode Car Show, but there has been some talk among some business owners on the street for a “welcome back” open house to encourage locals to shop on Main Street. But, she added, “it’s difficult to make plans right now, and Main Street needs a business association badly.”
As plans percolate, McDonald invites people to come to Main Street to shop. “Even though we are through the worst of the pandemic, we still need your support,” she said. She also was heartened by the reopening of Luka’s. “It’s vital that we have quality eateries on Main Street,” she added. “Now we just need to keep filling these empty storefronts and get Main Street back on its feet!”
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