Foot traffic returns to Olde Town Arvada, but will it be enough?

Posted at 5:07 PM, May 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 19:17:59-04

ARVADA, Colo. — On the first day of "safer at home" in Olde Town Arvada, the sidewalks are beginning to look like they did before the outbreak of coronavirus. A line has formed outside of Rhineland Bakery, where only five people can enter the building at a time.

"We are starting to see a pick up right now," says Maro Dimmer, who owns the bakery with her husband. Now that stores are opening up again, "it is about how we are adhering to the guidelines and making our customers feel safer."

But not all of the businesses in Arvada are seeing customers walk through the doors. Rhinelander, considered an essential business, has been operating for the past two months, though on a much more limited basis. However, the boutiques, opening for the first time on Saturday, business is much slower to return.

"My door has been open for half an hour," explains Antonia Pappas, pointing to her completely empty Vouna boutique. She says she has connected with customers on social media and advertised her opening, but she is not hopeful that many shoppers will return soon.

"Everybody that works here in Arvada has been wonderful about trying to get the message out. But, I think people are just still afraid."

The Arvada Chamber of Commerce started a campaign to show customers the steps businesses are taking to be safe. Called the "Safe and Open" campaign, businesses who joins sign a petition to limit customers and sanitize public areas in stores. But even with community support, owners say it will be a while until a coronavirus recovery is complete.

"Hopefully, after two or three months, it will be better, and people will come back," explains Sarbajit Basnet, who owns Third Eye Gifts in Old Town. He says that he relied on bars and restaurants to draw tourists to the region, many of them spending an afternoon in town.

Many expect a return to normal to take months, and much of it will be financially painful. But today's step towards normalcy is appreciated, even if the customers don't spend much.

"It broke my heart to see it empty and to not have customers walking up and down the streets, says Dimmer. "But we understood, and we are hoping that slowly but surely we can go back to having a vibrant downtown."