| Angelica J. Core
EASTHAMPTON – With the holidays coming, locally owned stores like those found on Cottage Street have been working hard to survive during the coronavirus pandemic and are preparing for a different gift-giving season.
Easthampton Crystal and Mineral Shop at 92 Cottage St. is open on Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m.
Aside from in-store shopping, owner Marianne Gregersen said customers can choose curbside pick-up, request a private appointment, or she can deliver items to local customers.
Gregersen is taking the following precautions to ensure the safety of her customers. She has a table outside of her door with hand sanitizer, a box of gloves, and a cup with wands. Gregersen said she has four wands to indicate how many people are allowed in the shop. If there are none in the cup, customers can wait outside. Although she only allows four people in a store at a time, she said if there is a family of five, she will allow them all to come in but no one else.
Another precaution Gregersen is taking is sanitizing the wands and door handles.
This holiday season, she said her cut shaped rocks are a popular item. “When they come in for the special stuff, they come in for the cut shapes, the specially made eggs.”
She also shared that she sells a lot more gemstone jewelry and has to stock up three times more than usual.
Book Moon, located at 86 Cottage St., is offering curbside pick-up Monday through Wednesday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. The store is not open for in-store shopping.
Gavin Grant, husband of the bookstore’s owner, Kelly Link, said customers can order on their website www.bookmoonbooks.com, call the store for phone orders at 203-1717, or if people are walking by and see a book they want in the window they can call and purchase it.
Grant shared that some popular books have been “A Promised Land” by former President Barack Obama, “How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories” by Amherst writer Holly Black, and “The City We Became” by N.K. Jemisin.
Next door at Sonnet and Sparrow, 84 ½ Cottage St., the store is open for in-person shopping on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.
Sonnet and Sparrow is co-owned by Cynthia West and her daughter McKenzie West.
Cynthia told Reminder Publishing four people are allowed in their space at one time. The store offers lavender hand sanitizer and gloves at the entrance, they open and close the door for customers, and use a UV light on all their items in the store, all day long.
“This year, we are working to make the lives of our customers as easy as possible. We are building special gift packages as our customers walk through the store and boxing up their treasures with vintage lace, love poems, and thoughtful quotes. We are also acknowledging our repeat customers with small gifts of gratitude for their support,” Cynthia said.
She said their most popular items have been cozy wearables, quirky and unusual objects from the past, and handmade treasures.
At Valley Art Supplies, 76 Cottage St., owner Juliette Moores said while there is no in-person shopping, she provides services by bringing items out front to customers.
Moores is in the store Tuesday through Saturday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. She shared that she lives close by and does not mind meeting customers at the store for pick-up during times that she is not physically in the store.
She also said she will email or text customers pictures of items that she sells and customers can pick out what they would like to purchase.
“With art, I have found that pretty much people kind of know what they are looking for when they go out looking for art supplies,” Moores said.
She shared that some customers request help from her. They will tell her what they want to do and she and the customer work together to get the necessary art supplies.
When the pandemic began, Moore was only doing deliveries and gained a bunch of new customers.
“We have been here for 16 years and a lot of people did not know we are here so that was awesome. So I am basically expanding my customer reach by promoting.”
Moore anticipates her holiday do-it-yourself (DIY) kits will be popular this holiday season. The boxes are $8 and her options are a DIY paint pour an ornament and the other is making a felt leaf wreath.
She began selling these kits when the pandemic began and also has leftover painted rock photo holder kits, paint a wine glass, or brandy glass kits. She believes the kits will continue to be a popular item.
Comics N’ More, co-owned by Christian “Xtian” Reader and his wife, Phoebe R.R. Zax, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. at 64 Cottage St.
Reader said in-person shopping is only allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Every customer that walks in has to sanitize their hands at the door.
During the other days of the week, customers can request appointment shopping, delivery, or pick-up their purchases in the back parking lot. Reader said a lot of their products are listed online for purchase at, www.comicsnmoreeast.square.site.
Two comics that Reader has found to be popular are “Cat Kid” by Dav Pilkey and “Mr. Miracle” from DC Comics.
Beth McElhiney, the owner of Wonderland, said she is allowing in-store shopping, online shopping, local delivery, and curbside pick-up.
The vintage shop is open on Tuesday through Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.
She said, so far, popular items have been socks, hats, and mittens, masks.
“It seems to be a lot of smaller gifts so far but we are still a month out, it is usually the higher end stuff much closer to Christmas for some reason,” said McElhiney.
Due to the uncertainty regarding the pandemic, Reminder Publishing suggests contacting individual stores for updates such as changes in hours or business operations.