Small groups of shoppers popped up in retail parking lots across New Castle County Monday like snowdrops and crocus exploding into the sun at the end of a grey winter.
After more than two months of staying home since Gov. John Carney ordered stores closed and residents to isolate themselves in March, people such as Megan Burns and her son Ryan were ready for a little retail therapy at Kohl’s on Concord Pike. That included the practicality of finding him a suit for his 8th-grade graduation from Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Down Interstate 95, happy shoppers carrying home decor were coming out of Kirkland’s in the Christiana Fashion Center, which proudly proclaimed on a sign near its front door that the store was now open. Masked shoppers were standing outside the Best Buy there and going into Ulta Beauty.
A few shoppers were surprised to find that both Christiana Mall and Concord Mall had delayed their openings until Tuesday in the wake of violence in Wilmington and Dover Saturday and Sunday that stemmed from the police killing of George Floyd May 25 in Minneapolis.
“We thought it was going to be packed,” said Brittany Briggs, who had walked to Concord Mall with her friend Coren Clymer after they shopped at Ulta.
The two planned to hit several places in their own private attempts at boosting the economy.
“It’s about time. To be honest, people need jobs,” Briggs said. Clymer laughed, saying her concerns were more personal. “I’m tired of getting stuff that’s not how it is in the picture and returning it. I mean, I want to go out and actually shop.”
Shoppers on Monday finally had a wide range of choices, as clothing stores, beauty shops, barbershops and more were officially allowed to welcome customers inside.
Sissy Aerenson, who owns Peter Kate women’s boutique on Concord Pike, said she is as happy as her customers to not have to field requests for appointments to shop.
“You know, today is Monday but it feels like a Friday. Several customers have stopped by our store today, and they are thrilled to be out and feel ‘normal’ coming in the store,” she said.
“They’re just so happy to be out and seeing pretty things and trying on shoes and tops for the first time in months.”
The parking lot at Kohl’s on Concord Pike wasn’t packed but held a significant number of cars as Megan Burns and Ryan were leaving with pants, a shirt, tie and suit coat. An athlete who plays football, basketball and lacrosse, he’s headed to Saliesanum School and hoping that summer activities are going to be OK’ed by the state.
The wide aisles in Kohl’s – usually crowded with display tables – had been cleared. Poster-sized signs reminded people to socially distance themselves. Hand sanitizer was easily available. Megan Burns said plenty of masked store personnel were on hand to help or offer directions. A few items on each aisle were listed at discounted prices.
Coren Clymer had made her way to Kohl’s from the mall, and we spotted her walked out with a shopping bag. She bought herself a new pair of pants and said, “just in case the pair I bought on Amazon don’t fit.”