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Small-business owner remains 'cautiously optimistic' while reopening retail locations
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BLING BLING SISTERS BACK

Small-business owner remains 'cautiously optimistic' while reopening retail locations

The doors were reopened at Bling Bling Sisters and regular customers returned.

Sheleigh Metzger reopened the boutique clothing store a few days after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed retail shops to begin in-person sales again.

“It went better than I expected,” she said Thursday afternoon. “We were initially really busy and then it tapered off in the afternoon. I found shoppers spending less time in the store, but purchasing how much they normally would. It seemed like people were wanting to get in and out of places.”

Metzger spent Wednesday bringing clothes back into the shop, as they had been transferred into her home to make way for online sales in the last two months. She also rearranged some of the store’s fixtures to allow for more spacing.

“I found it challenging how to decide to reopen. I had a lot of customers request we make masks mandatory” and other customers felt the opposite, she said.

“It’s a little challenging to make everyone happy.”

Citing her own health and consulting with her doctor, Metzger is recommending customers wear face coverings in the store.

But the small-business owner remains cautiously optimistic about reopening Bling Bling Sisters, which will hit its one-year milestone on June 1. And the store continues to add items, such as a sunless tanner that became a hit in the last few weeks as tanning salons were also shuttered.

“It was just a matter of thinking outside the box,” Metzger said. “We were always going to put that out, but it definitely got fast-tracked because” people couldn’t get into a tanning bed.

Next week, Celebrate, her bridal and prom store at 323 18th St. in Rock Island, will reopen its doors to customers on an appointment-only basis.

“This was really, really challenging for the bridal and prom store. There were many moments I didn’t know if it would come back from this and it’s going to be touch and go for the next six months,” Metzger said.

Part of the financial hit Celebrate has had to weather is the loss of prom season and the changes to weddings for the foreseeable future.

“You can’t buy a dress, wedding dress or bridesmaid’s dress, online,” she said.

But instead of relying on being busy for spring, summer and fall, weddings may become more consistent as bookings continue to be altered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and different regulations on the amount of people allowed to gather.

Metzger said some customers are seeking two wedding gowns, one for a limited wedding, such as 20 people in attendance, and then a second dress for a bigger, traditional event.

Appointments at Celebrate in Rock Island can be booked in one-hour increments on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those hoping to get into Celebrate can Facebook message the store or text/call the store at 309-798-8534 to schedule their time slot.

It will be “appointment-only so staff isn’t overwhelmed and so that we can properly serve brides,” Metzger said.

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