Comments have been all over the place on this morning’s post about Tina Dragone’s weekend promotional blasts, urging shoppers to come on in — at the same time every public official and health professional desperately tried to help Americans understand the importance of social distancing.
My intent was to highlight the difficulty of enforcing that idea — with friends, the young people in our homes, even spouses or elderly parents — when a local retailer said (in effect) “it’s okay!”
I was particularly struck by the tone of the promotion when so many other small businesses have voluntarily closed, and places like Trader Joe’s and banks took strong actions — clear marks on the floor, limiting the number of people inside, etc. — to reinforce the new normal.
In retrospect, I should have emphasized more the solution, which Tina Dragone noted in both messages: “private appointments available.” It would have been great had that been the only way she saw customers, and if that was the sole focus of the promotions.
I absolutely empathize with the position her store is in — along with thousands of other small businesses throughout Westport, Connecticut and the nation. Many closed voluntarily last week, when the scope of the crisis became clear.
Others, like Tina Dragone, will have to shut down at 8 p.m. tonight. Legally, she is permitted to stay open until then.
I am sure the store is filled with newly arrived merchandise. The spring fashion season was just getting underway. Who knows when clothes shoppers will next venture out — and how much money they’ll have to spend when they do.
I am sorry that the post sounded overly harsh. It was. I am also sorry that some readers asked me to “be more positive.” These are tough times, and I have tried — with all kinds of uplifting stories, like yesterday’s on the Old Mill Beach wedding (and the follow-up!) — to be as positive as possible.
I’ve also tried to give pertinent information — ways to find what you need, tips on how to help others, links to everything from Small Business Administration loans to testing sites.
Most readers have been wonderful. They understand I might not be able to pass along their news immediately (if an email inbox can overflow, mine is). They appreciate that I’m trying to balance my stories, not overwhelm everyone, but at the same time provide as much detail, about as much of the town, as I can.
We’re all in this together. You, me, and Tina Dragone.
Now go wash your hands.