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As Kansas City, Missouri, Begins Reopening, Retailers Are Happy To Be Back But Admit That 'It's Weird'

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Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Andrew Francis picks up a T-shirt he ordered from Mills Record Company on Wednesday morning. While the record store in Westport is still closed to foot traffic, they have been offering curbside pickup. Francis said he hadn’t been out this week and had been limiting his shopping to purposeful trips. This is the first time he ventured out this week, saying, “It feels kind of good.”

The stay-at-home order in Kansas City, Missouri, lifted for some non-essential businesses on Wednesday. Owners and customers proceeded with caution.

For the first time since March 24, stay-at-home orders in Kansas City, Missouri, eased somewhat on Wednesday when Mayor Quinton Lucas allowed some non-essential businesses to re-open provided they follow social distancing guidelines.

Venturing out into Midtown, KCUR found business owners prepared for much smaller crowds than they were used to seeing. Several owners and managers expressed concerns about their own and the public’s safety regarding adherence to social distancing and other safety measures while balancing their desire to move forward.

Early Wednesday at The Bunker in Westport, assistant manager and buyer Ana Piñon was busy posting notices and readying the store for “personal” shopping experiences they planned by allowing only one customer at a time into the store.

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Carlos Moreno
Ana Piñon, the assistant manager and a buyer at The Bunker in Westport, posts the distancing rules at the store that re-opened for foot traffic on Wednesday.

Piñon expressed mixed feelings about reopening. She said, “I’m glad to be back but it’s weird with the circumstances," she said. "I didn’t like being stuck at home.”

At 50th and Main, Perfect Scents owner Nancy Pollard rang up an order for Jerelyn Cooper, her first walk-in customer.

Pollard said she was glad to be open again, especially with Mothers Day around the corner. But she still had apprehensions about her safety and that of her customers.

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Carlos Moreno
Perfect Scents owner Nancy Pollard rings up an order for Jerelyn Cooper on Wednesday.

In Brookside, The New Dime Store owner Kimberly Harris said her store has remained open during the stay-at-home orders because she sells hardware and other items that are considered essential. However, she has been the only one working the store since March 24.

In addition to curbside pickup and shipping, she is allowing in one customer at a time. Harris said she plans to bring her employees back on May 18 and let a few more people into the store.

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Carlos Moreno
Kimberly Harris, the owner of The New Dime Store rings up a phone sale Wednesday afternoon in Brookside.

Nearby, Brookside Toy and Science is fulfilling online orders and doing curbside pickup, but it is still not officially open to foot traffic.

However, the store has a partnership with Bags of Fun, an organization that provides backpacks filled with educational, fun and silly toys to children who suffer from long-term childhood diseases. That allowed Catherine Hubbard to come in to fulfill a shopping request for one of her organization’s clients.

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Carlos Moreno
Catherine Hubbard with Bags of Fun Kansas City makes a shopping stop at Brookside Toy and Science on Wednesday.

At the Crestwood Shops at 55th and Brookside, not all of the merchants had opened on Wednesday, said Connie Bell, the store manager at George.

“We felt ready to open up,” Bell said, so she sent out emails and posted on Instagram.

“It’s been quiet. We’ve had some people in,” she said. “But it’s been busier around the block than it has been.”

Back in Westport, Wiseblood Booksellers was still closed. Co-owner Dylan Pyles said he wants to add a plexiglass barrier to the counter, but he’s currently shipping orders taking orders while letting people pick up books at nearby Mills Record Company.

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Carlos Moreno
Dylan Pyles, co-owner of Wiseblood Booksellers, shows off the presently closed store on Wednesday afternoon.

“Now that things are slowly starting to reopen, we want to move back in phases," Pyles said, "and not necessarily take for granted that this thing is still a threat.”

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