CADILLAC — The sun shined and the doors opened. And the customers came.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home" executive order began allowing retail and restaurants to partially re-open in Northern Michigan Friday.
By noon, shop owners and managers told the Cadillac News they'd been having a good day, as locals and visitors alike came to browse.
At The Sweet Shop (111 South Mitchell Street, Cadillac) owner Janeen Russell told the Cadillac News that customers have been ordering online and over the phone during the pandemic closure, but the store was now open for business.
"We've been in the store actually since Tuesday, getting ready—cleaning and making candy and stuff like that," Russell said.
At Serendipity (101 South Mitchell Street), Malorie Bosscher (daughter of the store's owner, Michele) built the clothing, accessories and gifts store a website and found an online shopping service. Online shopping was probably here to stay, but it was nice to see people in person again.
"(Customers) are very excited ... that the stores are opening," Michele Bosscher said.
Three of Serendipity's downstate customers said the attitude in Northern Michigan is much more relaxed than it is at home.
"I sneezed in Costco because I have allergies, and then I have everyone turn and look at me and gave me, like, a stink eye," said Alexis Reamer, 18, of Rockford. "And I'm just like, sneezing is not even on the thing for symptoms for COVID."
(Sneezing is not on the CDC's list of COVID-19 symptoms, but an infected person who sneezes for another reason could transmit the virus to others, per the CDC's explanation).
Reamer was shopping with Ashlyn (21) and Emily (19) Parker, of Allendale. The Parkers were visiting their cottage. They said the two families had been social distancing but had started seeing each other, treating their households as one.
"We kind of combined our quarantine," Reamer said. The young women said they'd also been to Glik's in Haring Township earlier in the day.
At Charming North (109 South Mitchell), Ursula Conti of Reed City said she had also been to Starbucks but wasn't sure where else she would visit.
"I just want to be out and about," Conti said. "Hopefully I can find something to make me feel better."
Restaurants were also open, though not as early; Clam Lake Beer Company (106 South Mitchell) planned to open at 3 p.m. and Raven Social (opened at 4 p.m.)
At Hermann's European Cafe (214 North Mitchell), some patrons dined in the restaurant's outdoor seating.
Dr. Rich Brenz and Anne Brenz got lunch soon after the restaurant opened on Friday. The pair said they'd been ordering take-out during the pandemic but were happy to dine in person.
"We're supporting our local businesses, because this is what neighbors do, what community members do," Anne Brenz said.
"It feels like a cloud has lifted—not completely—but at least there's some sun coming through," Dr. Brenz said. "Life is returning to normal."
"The fear is subsiding," Anne added.