Some Hudson businesses and shoppers welcome Wisconsin's 'soft' opening

A woman purchases items at a store.
Kristi Gingras was hitting several newly opened stores in Hudson, Wis. Wednesday.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Many small businesses in Wisconsin began opening their doors to customers after Gov. Tony Evers unexpectedly gave them the go-ahead this week.

As Minnesota readies to reopen some businesses next week, some merchants in Hudson and shoppers began enjoying the return of what's been categorized as non-essential commerce. Yet some still worry about keeping staff and customers safe.

Downtown Hudson, Wis., across the St. Croix River from the east Twin Cities metro area is known for its numerous small boutique shops. Many of them are welcoming back shoppers.

“We had a lot of visitors that we missed tremendously over the past eight weeks,” said Kendra  Wiesemeyer. She opened both of her downtown Hudson businesses —  715 and Grace and Grit — the day after Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers gave the OK.

A woman stands in a store with a face mask on.
Kendra Wiesemeyer opened both of her downtown Hudson businesses — 715 and Grace and Grit — the day after Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers gave the OK.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Wiesemeyer and her employee both wear masks. She said her customers are complying with basic public health guidelines, at least so far.

“We are practicing social distancing,” Wiesemeyer explained, “We are strongly encouraging masks. We are limiting the amount of people in the store to five. So we’re going to be very stringent about that.”

Wiesemeyer said signs will soon be going up all over Hudson reminding people to do what they can to keep everyone healthy.

Kristi Gingras was hitting several newly opened stores in town.

“I’m shopping,” Gingras said smiling.

Gingras was loaded up with more than $100 worth of non-essential stuff at another Hudson boutique called Onsite Apparel: shirts, hats, candles.

She was not wearing a mask but said she had one in her purse. She said she feels safe out and about and thinks bars and restaurants should be allowed to open as well, albeit at reduced capacity.

Onsite Apparel owner Lori Christophersen said it was time to reopen.

A woman smiles at a camera with product for a store on display.
Lori Christophersen owns Onsite Apparel in downtown Hudson.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

“Funding was getting very tight,” Christophersen said. “I think everyone just has to be cautious and careful and go with what your own beliefs are.”

Christophersen said she was taking several precautions to make shopping at her store safe.

“We have wipes and gloves. The employees are welcome to wear their masks. I choose not to,” she said. “I’m kind of claustrophobic.  After a customer checks out we wipe everything down,” she said.

Some Wisconsin businesses which could welcome people back into their shops are deciding against reopening immediately.

Scott Erickson owns the Bass Lake Cheese Factory 15 minutes northeast of Hudson. He’s a one-man show trying to fill wholesale and mail orders. His retail store remains shuttered. His nearly two dozen employees remain out-of-work. He’s thinking about reopening in a couple of weeks. He’s trying to figure out how to do it safely.

A man stands next to some cheese processing equipment.
Scott Erickson owns the Bass Lake Cheese Factory 15 minutes northeast of Hudson. He hopes to open to the public in a couple weeks.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

“Life as we know it is going to change, I mean there’s just no doubt about that and so no it’s matter of figuring out what we’ve got to do to prevent the spread of it.”

Back in Hudson at the boutique 715, owner Kendra Wiesemeyer said she’s expecting a busy weekend and she says she’s ready for it, five customers at a time.

“And we can have the windows open and the doors open and get some airflow going and everybody’s ready to come out,” Wiesemeyer said.

On Monday, many currently closed Minnesota businesses are expected to reopen following Governor Tim Walz's easing of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

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