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Local Store Owners Ready for Returning Customers

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“It’s great to be back open so that we can have our customers come through,” said Tom Maloney, owner of Raggs in New Haven.

He’s been on Chapel Street downtown for 36 years. After being closed for two months, he looks forward to familiar faces browsing the racks once more.

“Now that we’re back open I’m sure they’ll come back to shop in person.”

Retailers had the option to reopen Wednesday under Connecticut’s Phase One reopening plan. Many corporate chain stores in New Haven and in the Milford Marketplace chose to stay closed, as did some locally owned stores. 

But some like Maloney followed the state guidelines to reopen.

“The hand sanitizer, the glass cleaner, some masks and some disinfectant wipes,” said Maloney, showing off the required supplies. He’s also installed contact-free payment, which was another state suggestion, as well as shopping six feet apart. And any clothes tried on have to be quarantined for hours or steamed.

“We’re able to steam a garment and put it back into circulation and our dressing rooms are open,” said Maloney.

“If you want to buy a suit or sport coat it’s a lot about touch and feel,” said Jim Civitello owner of Enson’s Gentlemen’s Fashion on Chapel Street.

Civitello and his son Nick are also awaiting long-time customers to come in. And there are a few new restrictions.

“We’re not going to allow more than five people in the store at a time,” said Civitello. “And hopefully that will happen,” he chuckled.

The father-son team said they’re also cleaning the store, and they have masks and hand sanitizer for customers. The changes are small, but something they’ve never seen in their 60 years in business.

“My wish is that it will come back to the way it was. I don’t know if that will happen,” said  

They’re hoping for a retail rebound so they can salvage some of the spring season.

“With a decent spring summer business we can think positively about the fall,” said Maloney.

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