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Local businesses weigh in on virus reopening

Justin “Bugsy” Sailor is shown at his store along West Washington Street, the Upper Pennsula Supply Co. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — For local business owners, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-92 is another step in the direction of normalcy and a return in some of the revenue lost during the COVID-19 crisis, as it allows reopening of retail business and restaurants and bars with limited seating in the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions, effective Friday.

Bugsy Sailor, owner of U.P. Supply Co. in Marquette and “official unofficial ambassador of the U.P.” said the reopening of retail businesses is a “good sign that we’re moving in the right direction.”

“I think it’s a sigh of relief. It just means progress and I’m really excited. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Sailor said.

Previous executive orders closed the doors of retail businesses in late March, leaving U.P. Supply Co. to shift to e-commerce only.

“We were doing online orders and anybody who lived locally we offered to ship to them for free, so they didn’t even have to go out of their way,” he said. “Online has been successful, but it’s still a pretty big impact for us. (It’s) a significant impact for us to have our doors closed.”

For now, those looking to purchase the stickers, mugs, apparel or other goods available at the downtown Marquette shop will still make their purchases online via upsupply.co, as when the store will officially reopen is yet to be determined, Sailor said.

“It’s certainly up in the air. It sounds like we can open on Friday which is tremendous, but our biggest concern now is once we are open (is) who’s going to be on the other side of the door trying to come in?” he said. “I’m certainly cautious to open. To be frank, I’m not rushing to open. I want to be patient and make sure that we’re doing it right and putting in any protocols we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

He plans to put certain measures in place to protect employees and customers, such as limiting how many people are allowed in the store at a time, frequent cleaning and more.

As U.P. Supply Co. reopens with caution and other retail shops, restaurants and offices do the same, Sailor hopes the community will continue to support small businesses and that the U.P. will be a safe destination for tourists to travel to this summer.

“We’re blessed to be a part of a good community and we’re truly all in it together,” Sailor said.

Further down Washington Street in downtown Marquette, Iron Bay Restaurant & Drinkery will begin dine-in services Friday in compliance with the governor’s most recent orders.

“We’re going to do about 50% capacity,” said Andrew Hillary, general manager of the Iron Bay Restaurant and Drinkery. “There’s no room to open the tap room currently, but we’re going to offer some patio space and some dining space. Some of that bar space is going to feel a little different because we’re trying to make sure everybody can stay far away from everybody else but so far that’s the goal. We’ll adjust as we need to.”

Though the restaurant will be open to the public under the new order, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does still recommend all follow social distancing guidelines and Iron Bay will continue to adhere by maintaining six feet between guests and wearing personal protective equipment, Hillary said.

“I think there’s initial excitement to be able to open the doors and serve food to guests again in a capacity that is more than takeout and delivery. But certainly, we’re also hesitant, because it’s going to be hard to control all the guests and really convince people to be safe and courteous of others,” he said. “Be safe and be courteous and bare with everybody as we figure out how this all works.”

Trinity Carey can be reached at tcarey@miningjournal.net.

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