It’s been a few weeks since many “non-essential” retail businesses were allowed to reopen as part of Florida’s Phase 2 response to the COVID-19 pandemic on June 5.

Many business owners are trying different measures to get customers to relax and shop, as long as they do it safely. Here’s how some businesses, including some that have been open during Phase 1 in March, are coping and coming back.

ENGLEWOOD Ivy’s on Dearborn

Anyone entering Ivy on Dearborn, 446 W. Dearborn St., must wear a mask — or is given one. “I’ve had customers say they don’t want to wear a mask, and I offer them one while they are shopping,” said owner Karen Tyree. “I’m not going to sacrifice my employee’s health and safety for a buck. Wearing masks helps prevent the spread of this awful disease.” They also sell printed, two-ply cotton (washable) masks. Two dressing rooms are open. Each piece of clothing that is tried on is sprayed and held a day if the customer doesn’t buy it.

Barefoot Trader

The Barefoot Trader, 2025 N. Beach Road, is a shop visited by thousands of tourists and locals each year. When people come to Englewood Beach, tourists love to browse inside Barefoot Trader. After COVID-19 shut down beaches, the store was like a ghost town.

However, customers have returned. Some new changes include only 15 customers in the store at a time. When they enter, they are greeted by an employee with hand sanitizer. They are asked to wear a mask if they want. Masks are also sold there.

If a customer tries on clothing but doesn’t buy it, the items are put in a box with strong ultraviolet lights. “I worked at a hospital and we used UV lights to clean rooms in between patients,” said a manager Hannah Shressler. “We do that here with clothing that people try on and don’t buy. Then we are able to put it back on the rack. We also limit the amount of clothing that can be tried on at a time. We want people to enjoy their experience in our store, but to be safe.”

Rhoads Produce

There’s Plexiglas barrier separating customers from employees at the checkout counter at this produce market. Social distancing is posted at the line and inside the open-air building, 210 N Indiana Ave. Since COVID-19, they offer curbside pickup and ($5) delivery service in Englewood, Cape Haze and Rotonda. Employees sanitize the building throughout the day. For more information, call Jessica 941-276-0234.

Michael Douglass Plumbing

Since COVID-19, plumbers at Mike Douglass Plumbing wear booties, masks, gloves and sometimes will even remove their shoes before entering customer’s homes. “My employees welcomed it, these new changes. We want to make sure they are doing the right stuff, too,” said owner Doug Curtis. “It also makes the customers feel secure knowing we are taking all kinds of precautions.”

Curtis bought hand sanitizer from the local Rotary Club for all of his employees to use.

Irving’s Ice cream

Irving’s Ice Cream, 405 W. Dearborn St., has spaced the outdoor seating area so customers can socially distance while eating a cone or sipping an espresso.

Vino Loco

Only about 10 tables are on the patios from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. on Fridays. Nothing larger than a four-top is seated. They’ve redone the rear patio so customers can sit safely and comfortably. No inside dining. Customers are asked to make reservations: 941-473-8466 or

Signing the pledge

The Old Englewood Village Association asked all of the businesses along West Dearborn Street to sign a pledge to stop the spread of the coronavirus. They’ve encouraged owners to practice physical distancing, wear facial masks whenever distancing is not possible, conduct daily temperature checks for all employees, provide hand sanitizer at all entrances and exits, follow CDC cleaning protocols, implement contactless payment when possible and implement COVID-19 awareness training for all employees.

PORT CHARLOTTEPanther Hollow Dental Lodge

The office at 19240 Quesada Ave. is open for routine dental procedures. The waiting room is temporarily closed. A staff member will greet each patient and come to your car to ask pre-screening questions and check temperature. Hand sanitizer is provided upon entering, and all patients are encouraged to use it. Masks are required until the patient gets to the treatment room. Patients should check the website for periodic updates. If you have an emergency, follow the directions on the voicemail system.

Compassionate Cannabis Clinic

The clinic at 3841 Tamiami Trail is offering recertification appointments by drive-through or Telehealth, to limit the amount of people in the office, said office manager Deirdre Spit. Anyone in the office is required to wear masks. There is a hand sanitizing station out front. Spit said the clinic asks patients that don’t require someone to accompany them to come alone. Plexiglas partitions have been installed in consultation rooms to block patients from doctors.

Southwest Florida Counseling Center

The counseling center at 1777 Tamiami Trail asks all patients that come for in-person sessions to sign acknowledging processes and policies related to contagion. Policies include: consistent cleaning of waiting rooms and offices, chairs spread out in waiting room to allow for social distancing, waiting room is only open to clients and one parent or legal guardian for minors, and masks are required. If you do not have a mask, get one for $1. Anyone who is uncomfortable using the waiting room may contact their therapist to make alternative arrangements.

Fearless Fitness 41:10

The boutique boxing gym at 2032 El Jobean Road introduced smaller class sizes, halted lending equipment, including boxing gloves and hand wraps. After every class, the floor is sanitized and each member is asked to sanitize the bag they used. The gym provides hand sanitizer and cleanser.

Krista’s Cheese Kakery

In order to keep traffic down and have less contact, the shop at 3036 Tamiami Trail will only be open Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. for grab-and-go slices to be sold for walk-in customers. Customers can place orders by phone every day, except Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for whole cheesecakes and large quantity orders. Call 941-235-8570.

PUNTA GORDA Sandman Books

Heidi Lange owns Sandman Books, 5240 Duncan Road. She’s changed how she runs the business over the past few weeks and has found the modifications have helped bring in new business. She now offers contact free alternatives like phone and online ordering, curbside pickup, local delivery and prompt shipping. In-store appointments are also available and masks are required.

“We found that some of the things we did as temporary measures to get through the last couple of months were really good ideas so we are launching a more permanent version of them,” Lange said. “Local delivery in particular was a big hit, and for a number of reasons. I think it fits our local clientele really well.”

Lange added that the new website also allows people to browse and make wish lists of things they aren’t ready to buy now but plan to order later on, which was a popular activity once everyone was stuck at home. She encourages anyone who loves to read to visit and check it out.

Simply Sweet

Simply Sweet Candy store in Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. “We are open and practicing all the necessary precautions such as wrapping our fresh fudge into individual pieces,” the owner posted on Facebook. The owners are celebrating six years in business this month and wish to thank the community for shopping local.

Travel Ease

Sandra Bevers has owned Travel Ease Ltd., a tourism business at 100 Madrid Blvd., for 27 years. In the past, she has hired staff to help during busy times, but she’s been running the business on her own for the past few months. “My hours have been cut back tremendously,” Bevers said. “People are hesitant to make any travel plans right now. There are some very good deals available.”

NORTH PORTRock Box Music School

The music school at 5400 S. Biscayne Drive, is offering online music lessons for all instruments, with the first one free. Owner Angel Bartolotta said most of their business is online right now, but the silver lining is that it’s expanded the school’s reach, to where they can teach students all around the country and the world.

For those still coming in for in-person lessons, Bartolotta said all teachers and staff wear masks, and some wear gloves. Shared instruments are disinfected after each lesson. Each week, a deep cleaning company comes in to sanitize the entire building. Bartolotta added that the school also installed UV lighting inside their air conditioning units, which helps keep the air clean.

North Port Animal Hospital

Everything is operating curbside at 14487 Tamiami Trail. Clients remain outside in their cars, while the veterinarians bring the animals inside. Payment and history is provided over the phone. Employees are required to wear masks at all times.

Staff writers Elaine Allen-Emrich, Sue Erwin and Brianna Kwasnik contributed to this story.



Load comments