Attention Readers: We're Back
C&G Newspapers is pleased to have resumed publication. For the time being, our papers will publish on a biweekly basis as we work toward our return to weekly papers. In between issues, and anytime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Farmington-area businesses reopen following governor’s lifted restrictions

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 9, 2020

 Watchband Plus Owner Robet Corlin stands behind the counter at his store after nine weeks of being closed due to COVID-19.

Watchband Plus Owner Robet Corlin stands behind the counter at his store after nine weeks of being closed due to COVID-19.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

 As people enjoy sitting outside at patios across Farmington’s many food shops, restaurant and shop owners are reopening and welcoming people for dine-in services again.

As people enjoy sitting outside at patios across Farmington’s many food shops, restaurant and shop owners are reopening and welcoming people for dine-in services again.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

 A sign at Cottage Inn Pizza in Farmington indicates the requirements and capacity limits for customers to enter the store under COVID-19 restrictions.

A sign at Cottage Inn Pizza in Farmington indicates the requirements and capacity limits for customers to enter the store under COVID-19 restrictions.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Advertisement

FARMINGTON/HILLS — Since March 16, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established COVID-19 restrictions limiting bars, restaurants and retailers to curbside pickup or delivery operations only, many businesses have felt the economic turmoil that’s come from the pandemic.

Barstools and booths have been left bare. Countertops filled with merchandise have gone untouched. In some cases, the lights were off for weeks or months.

All of that has changed now with Whitmer’s June 1 announcement, which rescinded the state’s executive Safer at Home order and allowed restaurants and retailers to reopen at a limited 50% capacity. Retailers were given the green light to reopen June 4, and restaurants open June 8.

Although the more than two-month closures and stay-at-home order allowed the state to reduce its number of fatal COVID-19 cases, the economic setbacks many businesses in the greater Farmington community felt from the virus can’t be overstated. Many small businesses were forced to make hard decisions about maintaining staff numbers, keeping up with rent, and in some cases, worse.

“I mean, no customers for nine weeks is a big impact, and I’m still waiting for help from the government,” said Farmington Hills-based Watchbands Plus owner Robert Corlin. “I applied for two grants and a loan. I just found out last week that I’m getting a grant, but I’m not getting it for another 30 days.”

While federal, state and county officials, and local chambers of commerce, have lent their efforts to providing resources, information and financial support to businesses in need, the true rebuilding blocks for most small businesses will be their customers reaching out to support them again.

The Farmington Hills Economic Development Department, through the Oakland County Stabilization fund, was able to provide COVID-19-related grant funding to over 150 Farmington Hills businesses. The Farmington Downtown Development Authority had raised $3,390 of its $5,000 goal as of June 5 through a Patronicity campaign that will be matched by Main Street Oakland County to purchase personal protective equipment for businesses.

Several other local and countywide measures have been established, including providing reopening kits that include PPE, signage and navigational demarcation to businesses; free legal services to answer questions; help with funding options; and more.

“We are definitely looking forward to the safe reopening of our businesses community … as we navigate through our new normal for a bit,” Farmington Hills Economic Development Director Samantha Seimer wrote in an email.

In this period of continued uncertainty, the Demers family — the owners of C & G Newspapers, with 19 newspapers dedicated to hyperlocal news coverage and advertising — feel it’s important to lend their voices to helping many of their communities’ small businesses get back on track.

“I think every business person feels the same way. They’re all pitching in to get everyone through this terrible crisis. That’s when we really see the best in people,” Managing Editor Gregg Demers said. “I’m so pleased with the response from our editors and reporters, and how dedicated they are to getting the job done and keeping readers connected to their community and informed about what’s happening where they live. I think that’s the role we can play to help get through this, and it’s an important one.”

As many of the communities’ businesses and storefronts gear up to reopen following the governor’s lifted restrictions, some are eager to open their doors again, while others are OK with a bit slower pace toward normalcy.

Despite having to close for nine weeks, Corlin isn’t trying to expedite his reopening process just yet. He plans to wait at least another month before thinking about returning his shortened hours to normal and allowing more than three people in his store.

“Let’s do the shorter hours, get things under control, and see how things are (and) how people are,” he said. “Maybe by the end of summer, come Labor Day. I’m kind of enjoying shortened hours for right now. It’s just me here. I don’t have employees. If we’re open, I’m always here, because I do all the work. So maybe Labor Day, and that way I get to enjoy the summer a little bit.”

Corlin might be waiting to reopen his storefront fully, but he’s looking forward to other businesses in his shared plaza to come back.

“With 10 restaurants in here, I’ve always had great foot traffic. That’s kind of died, so I’m looking forward to not being the only one around here.”

As businesses begin to welcome people back into their shops, bar tops and tables, the battle to keep customers and employees safe and stay open isn’t over. It’s just beginning again.

“As we’re reopening businesses, we’ll be able to assess with our merchants where they’re needs are, and we just want to make sure we’re walking right alongside them,” Farmington Downtown Development Authority Director Kate Knight said.

Advertisement