Douglas County businesses scramble to open under new 'safer at home' guidelines

Posted at 9:58 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 23:58:59-04

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- As most of the Denver Metro remains under stay-at-home orders, businesses in Douglas County are scrambling to understand and open Monday on the first day of the governor's new "safer at home" policy.

In Highlands Ranch, Festive Cup Cafe & Boutique put up a giant sign Monday, proudly proclaiming "Now Open." Yet, the gift shop isn't allowed to sell any gifts.

"I'm not sure how this works," said Anthony Whitham, co-owner of Festive Cup. "If somebody comes in, and they buy coffee, can they buy a gift? I don't know. So right now, we're not selling gifts."

They have always been allowed to sell coffee, which is considered an essential business, but coffee isn't what pays their bills. To sell the gifts, though, the shop would have to offer curbside pickup, required for retailers under the new "safer at home" executive order.

"For a store like this, this is a place you have to come in and look," said Whitham. "So no one is going to call and say, 'Would you bring a greeting card out to the curb?'"

In downtown Castle Rock, The Emporium is back open for business -- sort of. The manager has been taking orders online and leaving bags outside for customers to pick up at the curb.

Elizabeth Villwock, a manager at the Emporium, said it felts like the start of something good.

"Now, we’ve got people picking up packages right and left," said Villwock. "For us as a business, this is a huge step just to be able to open our doors and offer another service — contactless curbside pickup, and we look forward to being able to open our doors."

But some businesses are confused about different orders and different dates.

"I’m booked for the next two weeks nonstop, and everybody is," said one hairdresser, who believed today was the first day salons could be open in Douglas County. "It's just really exciting to have people come in, and I'm being really cautious."

At one point, Monday was the first day salons could open, but under the most recent safer at home plan, the date salons could open changed to Friday.

County officials said many Douglas County businesses are waiting to open until they can better understand the health guidelines that weren't released until Monday morning.

At Festive Cup, customers are starting to trickle in, hoping to support a local business trying to stay afloat and the shop hopes to be ready when people can actually buy gifts.

"We’re going to do the best we can," said Whitham. "May 1st, people will be able to come into the store again with social distancing and we can start getting back to normal."