The staff at Bedouin is masked up and helping customers. photo by Jodi Schneider
The staff at Bedouin is masked up and helping customers. photo by Jodi Schneider
The road to recovery has started for local businesses in Sisters. They unlocked their doors on Friday May 15, the day Deschutes County moved into Phase I of the state’s reopening.

For the first time in weeks many retailers welcomed people in their stores and said it’s giving them a sense of normalcy. Some small business owners in Sisters are still erring on the side of caution, sticking with curbside pickup. A couple are remaining closed.

But for others, it’s business as usual — with some restrictions.

While these businesses have guidelines in place to keep everyone safe, many proprietors told The Nugget they’re excited to reopen, and so are their customers.

On Hood Avenue in downtown Sisters, shop owners Brian and Heather Olson were happy to open their doors to The Hen’s Tooth. Golden retrievers Barley and Buster were standing by greeting customers at the door just like normal.

“It feels good to be back. Everyone that has come in is grateful that we are open,” said Heather. “I even had a woman cry when she came in because she needed this so badly, to be able to get out and wander around in the shops again.”

She added, “My mom Debbie started this store in the 1970s and we’ve been here 42 years and I’ve been here since I was 19. We’ve been through a couple of recessions; we’ve been through the building being on fire, but we’ve never been forced to close. It’s hard to plan for no income.”

They are observing extra sanitation protocols.

“Our restrictions are everyone be smart and be safe. Hand sanitizer is available, and we are sanitizing everything.”

Kara Calmettes was ready for business Friday when she reopened her downtown shop, The Paper Place. Calmettes had been operating a curbside service to customers’ requests since the shutdown.

She said, “We are moving in the right direction. I’ve had a website up and going since March taking orders, mailing orders, curbside, whatever it took. Since last Friday people are thrilled coming back in here. Everybody is happy to be out and about. Basically, I’m wearing a mask and am asking for social distancing. I have hand sanitizer for customers and am keeping things sanitized.”

Further down the street Western artist Dyrk Godby was in the middle of moving his art gallery, Dyrk Godby Gallery, across the street to a larger space and will be reopening as soon as he’s got things in order. Local artist Jim Horsley was giving a helping hand.

Horsley noted, “I’ve been working in Dirk’s gallery one day a week for over about a year. It gives Dirk a break and I get to have my art up. We are very excited about reopening.”

Across the street at Bedouin, proprietor Harmony Thomas said in order to make up revenue for the cancellation of Sisters’ large events, they will be hosting mini events at Bedouin and Good Day Café featuring the artists that they promote.

“We will continue with our monthly art rotation when we can do Fourth Friday Art Strolls safely,” Thomas explained. “Our first jewelry trunk show will be in June — no date set yet because I think we are in a new learning curve for the next two weeks.” Look for updates on their website at https://www.loc8nearme.com/oregon/sisters/bedouin/3299300/.

Thomas and her staff meet everyone at the door with hand sanitizer and are encouraging people to wear a mask.

Over at Heritage Antiques employee Karen Alexander noted that she’s seeing happy people that are glad to be out of the house and in the store.

“People are grateful to have a place to go…it’s like Disneyland,” she said.

People were happy to walk the streets downtown. The sounds on Cascade Avenue seemed to be slowly coming back to life.

Over at Sisters Cascade of Gifts, employee Beth Prince said, “People are grateful that we are open. When people come in I think they are buying because they are thankful. They are trickling in and out. But that’s OK; baby steps. Let’s get the people used to coming back?in.”

Owner of the gift shop Kara Lappe said she’s happy to be open just to get a cash flow, to pay the bills and keep the lights on.

She noted, “People have been very talkative and very excited. We’ve had a lot of local support when we first opened. Our regular customers have come in, and they are making a special trip here because they really want to support us.”

Although the shutdown order has devastated some businesses, the pandemic has had a surprisingly positive impact on a handful of new businesses.

Lappe, also owner of BJ’s Ice Cream, and her employees were dishing up cones and milkshakes curbside as fast as they could for folks on Memorial Day Weekend from behind a window, but are planning an opening with a fully revamped shop very soon to introduce “The SweetEasy Co.”

Lappe noted, “Though the pandemic closed our doors, we have been working on a full makeover of the ice cream shop for months. My employee Sana Hayes and I personally worked 10 hours a day in the 2,000-square-foot space, painting, paneling, getting the menus ready and deep cleaning.”

Local fabric designer Valori Wells was happy to tell The Nugget that Stichin’ Post is reopened to the public.

She said, “People are so excited for us to be open; they just want to come in and touch the fabric. We are excited about the opening and happy that people are coming by, and we are seeing a lot of our friendly local faces. We have our protocols for the comfort of our staff and the comfort of our customers. We are following all the guidelines to stay safe so we can stay open. Masks are fully encouraged in here and we have hand sanitizer when you walk in.”