Wilton shop owner: "We need people to shop here"

WILTON — “We need people to shop here. Don’t shop online. This is your town. Shop here.”

“B” Chic owner Erica Malhotra was expressing the opinion of retailers who opened in Wilton Center on Wednesday, May 20, as part of the state’s Phase 1 reopening.

She and other shopkeepers were “very excited to reopen after being closed almost 10 weeks,” she said, and now they are relying on their customers to return. All have taken the necessary safety precautions prescribed by the state to reopen.

Malhotra pointed to tape on her floor that indicates the required six feet of social distancing among customers waiting to pay for purchases. She also has arrows indicating one-way flow through the boutique and a sign outside that says only five people in the store at any time and masks must be worn. Hand sanitizer is in abundance.

“We have suffered tremendously from the closure,” Malhotra said. “Small businesses were hurt the most. Now we need people to shop here.”

If they do, she said, “I feel we can get through this. We have loyal customers. They may not rush in but they will come.”

“B” Chic has been on Center Street for 14 years and is known for its jeans. Malhotra said she’s got all new stock for spring — white jeans, tops and shorts — and on Wednesday two customers were looking through the rack of clothes she had on the sidewalk. They said they were happy to be back shopping.

“B” Chic will be open every day from noon to 5 for the next two weeks, and then Malhotra will evaluate any changes. Private appointments are available before and after store hours as well as curbside pickup.

Dressing rooms are off-limits right now, but customers may return items if they need to.

“We are just happy for the opportunity and chance to reopen. Some people can’t,” she said. “We are very honored to be back. We want things to get back to normal soon.”

Wilton Photo

When asked if he was happy to reopen, Dave Perry at Wilton Photo emphatically said, “are you kidding? Yeah!”

While his business suffered during the closure, things appear to be picking up.

“Everybody’s been in isolation. They’re coming up with projects. I’m flooded with photo projects,” he said. “Scanning, enlarging, doing graduation stuff. Parents want to take the pain away from kids not graduating.”

Wilton Photo is marking its 20th year in town and Perry said he’s happy as can be given the cirumstances. “It’s like coming out of a bad winter,” he said.

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Town Center Toys

Town Center Toys wasn’t open even a year when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and owner Jennifer Fila is looking to make up for lost time.

Fila said she is happy to be open again but expects shoppers to be cautious. She has plexiglass at the register and will accept cash as well as cards “until I can’t. Some customers, especially children, like to use cash,” she said.

Fila has lots of hand sanitizer and suggests customers use a spritz before they leave. As a precaution, she’s taken all demos and displays children and adults like to touch off the floor.

The toy store will be open from noon to 4 on Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment before and after “if a customer wants the store to themselves,” she said.

Throughout the closure people have been purchasing through the online store at towncentertoys.com for curbside pickup and that will continue. Fila also communicates with customers through Facebook and Instagram.

River Road Gallery

Manager Pat Blossom cheerfully greeted a visitor to River Road Gallery on Wednesday where she was in the process of marking off six-foot distances. A large bottle of hand sanitizer is at the entrance and the rule for masks will be enforced. Blossom showed off a supply she has if a customer comes in without one.

“The key is wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer,” she said. If people cannot or choose not to wear a mask she said they may place orders by phone.

“With so much time at home, people have been doing projects and we want to be available to them,” Blossom said.

Campus Jewelers

“We want to see our customers,” Sonya Taheri, owner of Campus Jewelers said of reopening.

“We’ve cleaned everything from top to bottom. We’ve sanitized the door handles and showcases. We are trying to keep it safe for people,” she said.

Trying on jewelry is OK, she said.

Taheri, whose store has been in Wilton 10 years, did not lay anyone off during the closure and has not had any financial relief. Although the store has not had any sales in two months, the rent still needed to be paid, she said.

Campus Jewelers is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Local Soul

By early afternoon on Wednesday, Local Soul had already had several customers as owner Beth Montford and high school employee Kat Corrigan arranged their wares. The store sells handmade items from more than 100 Connecticut artists.

“I view this as a platform for artists,” Montford said. With many shows canceled due to the pandemic “they only have local stores to sell through,” she said.

“The town’s been very supportive,” she said, explaining they’ve been doing curbside pickups since they had to close in mid-March. Now, she’s getting ready for an off-site Sheridan Mia shoe sale on June 1.

Local Soul will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“Flexibility is the name of the game,” Montford said. “We will do whatever — we want people to feel safe and welcome when they come in.”