Rainy Hillis is ready to reopen.
Her antique store, The Whole Kit ‘N’ Caboodle, on Route 66 between Edgewood and Moriarty, shuttered on March 13 during the initial round of coronavirus restrictions, Hillis said, eliminating her livelihood along with that of co-owner Sandy Cresei.
“This is our living,” Hillis said. “We haven’t made money in two and half months.”
Now, The Whole Kit ‘N’ Caboodle plans to partially reopen Saturday after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham eased restrictions on “non-essential” businesses May 13.
The new guidelines told retailers they can operate at 25 percent capacity. Large retailers, such as Walmart and Smith’s, will continue to operate at 20 percent of their capacity.
While Hillis may be ready, other businesses could choose to stay shuttered.
Linda Burke, who heads the Greater Edgewood Area Chamber of Commerce said profits may be scarce under the new conditions. “When you tell a business they can operate at 25 percent, that’s not generally profitable,” she said.
The Estancia Valley and East Mountains haven’t seen an outbreak of COVID-19 like that of the metro area and northwestern part of New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Department of Health data.
As of May 14, there were 18 confirmed cases in Torrance County and 14 cases in the Edgewood and East Mountain area, according to the state’s Department of Health data.
RV Sales owner Valerie Chowning said her business was “pretty much back and ready to rock-n-roll.”
Before Wednesday’s guidelines, Chowning said her business was considered essential because it offers RV repair, but she closed most of her operations as a precaution. Later on, she opened up by appointment. She started doing curbside sales this week.
Chowning said sales at her business plummeted over the last two months, in what is otherwise her busy season. In normal times, Chowning said she sells about eight to ten RVs a month. She said right now they’re at one RV a month.
“With the state parks closed, people aren’t able to travel the way they usually are and of course with so much unemployment and the economic uncertainty, that’s definitely affecting things as well,” Chowning said.
Wednesday’s guidelines said gyms, salons and dine-in service at restaurants and bars could possibly reopen in June, depending on transmission rates, testing supplies and hospital capacity.
In the Estancia Valley and East Mountains, one testing location in Estancia operates once a week, according to Torrance County Emergency Manager Matt Propp.
“We’re at the point now anybody can get a test as long as tests are still available,” Propp said.
Tests in Torrance County haven’t run out, Propp said, something he’s hoping will continue through the pandemic. He said test days at the Estancia facility have seen anywhere between 10 and 30 people.
“I know last week the numbers were pretty low, I think we were under ten,” Propp said.
Casey Lawler, owner of East Mountain Grill in Edgewood, said he brought down the chairs in his restaurant, anticipating dine-in services to start up this month. But that didn’t happen. In the meantime, Lawler said he’ll continue carry-out and drive-through services.
“We were down to about 30 percent of sales in the beginning. Now we have rebounded to somewhere in the neighborhood of about 55 to 60 percent. So, we’re one of the few that I think is doing really well,” Lawler said.
Lawler said he received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Without it, East Mountain Grill would have closed, Lawler said.
The PPP loans were a function of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and incentives businesses to keep employees on payroll. “With that, and staying around 50 percent, I think we’re going to come through,” Lawler said.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.