It’s back to business.
Many Santa Fe retailers reopened Saturday after being closed for months because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Jackalope on Cerrillos Road, which sells home décor and gardening supplies, had a line stretching through its parking lot for most of the day. The shop posted signs asking customers to wait outside the gate since the store’s capacity was for 10 people at a time.
Abre Martinez said she and her family waited in line for at least 20 minutes to get into the store to buy planters and roses.
Martinez said she and her husband were lucky enough to work from home but were also schooling their children, who are 15, 11 and 6 years old.
Martinez, 35, said it was the first outing outside of grocery shopping the family made, and probably the only one for a while.
“We’re not going to the stores yet,” she said. “I think it’s going to be overcrowded.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has issued a modified public health order that allows retailers to operate at 25 percent of their maximum occupancy. It also requires everyone to cover their faces in public, with exceptions for eating, drinking and exercise.
In stores across the city, most shoppers wore face masks and were careful to maintain 6 feet of space. But fewer people wore masks on the Plaza as they window-shopped or lounged on benches.
Jennifer Catechis; her husband, Chris; and 1-year old daughter, Ziadora, went to Newman’s Nursery on Cerrillos Road to buy flowers for their new home.
“We’ve stayed home except for the grocery store, or a once-a-week order from a local restaurant,” Chris Catechis said.
While there were lines in some parts of town, for others, there was a trickle of patrons.
David Borrego, owner of Borrego’s Guitars and Music Supply on St. Michael’s Drive, said the business was struggling.
“The rent doesn’t stop,” he said.
He’s gotten a few loans here and there, but nothing significant.
“We’re not giving up the ghost just yet, but it’s dire,” he said.
At A Cake Odyssey on Second Street, owners Jim and Karyn West said business has ebbed and flowed.
Jim West said the couple was grateful for support from the community, as their strawberry and rhubarb pie flew off the shelves this weekend. But the bakery has taken a hit with cancellations of weddings and other events.
“We’ve been closed for two months, so doing the refunds is quite tough,” Jim West said.
New Mexico was hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked the state the sixth-worst in the nation with a March unemployment rate at nearly 6 percent.
According to preliminary numbers from the state, Santa Fe County had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. Luna County reported the highest unemployment rate at 20.1 percent.
For some businesses, reopening is a difficult choice or out of reach.
Peter Wagner, who co-owns Castro Alterations on Airport Road with wife and seamstress Patricia Wagner, said the choice was difficult.
“We’re still selling masks, but we haven’t decided if we’ll open to other alterations yet,” Peter Wagner said. “If we add jackets, dresses — it might be an overload.”
Local restaurateurs said their situation looks bleak, as they wait for at least another month to reopen dining services.
“We have 54 employees and brought eight back,” said Plaza Café owner Daniel Razatos. “So, no, I don’t think takeout is helping out.”
While a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program helped the restaurant keep staff, he said it’s a short-term solution.
“I think the city should reexamine the living wage,” Razatos said. “It’s super high, and that’s going to prevent people from coming back to work. Now’s a good time to work on it.”
Ayame Fukuda, owner of Mampuku Ramen on Cerrillos Road, said the restaurant is “treading water.”
“We’re hoping to use the [Paycheck Protection Program] loan to give us a push-off, but our survival greatly depends if we can open our doors for dine-in,” Fukuda said.
She said the restaurant, which opened in August, was able to rehire 15 staffers who were laid off. Fukuda said the future is uncertain, but she’s determined to stay open.
“I really want to survive here,” she said. “We’ve worked really hard to establish ourselves.”