Thornes taking big step forward: Marketplace open seven days a week, emphasizing safety

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  • Two patrons visiting from New Haven, Connecticut, enter Thornes Marketplace on Main Street in Northampton on Thursday afternoon. All 22 shops and restaurants in the retail complex returned to a seven-day schedule last Monday after being closed for COVID-19. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Thornes Marketplace marketing manager Jody Doele talks about bringing the 22 shops and restaurants at the Northampton shopping center back to a seven-day schedule as she stands outside the Main Street entrance Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ellen LaFleche of Northampton talks about shopping at the natural foods store Cornucopia in Thornes Marketplace in Northampton on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Thornes Marketplace patron Jonathan Price of Northampton talks Thursday about the Northampton retail space’s return to a seven-day schedule. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jade Jump, co-owner of Cornucopia in Thornes Marketplace, talks Thursday about returning to a seven-day schedule with the other shops and restaurants in the Northampton shopping center. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cedar Chest manager Dani Antes, left, and business manager Dror Shmerling talk Thursday about the Thornes Marketplace anchor store’s return to a seven-day schedule. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Scott Purcell, manager of Booklink Booksellers in Thornes Marketplace, talks Thursday about returning to a seven-day schedule with other shops and restaurants in the Main Street Northampton retail space. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cedar Chest manager Dani Antes and business manager Dror Shmerling, right, talk Thursday about the Thornes Marketplace anchor store’s return to a seven-day schedule. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Tables of masks and hand sanitizer are stationed at the entrances to Thornes Marketplace in Northampton on Thursday. All 22 shops and restaurants in the shopping center have returned to a seven-day schedule. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Patrons of Thornes Marketplace in Northampton observe the divided "up" and "down" traffic flow on the grand stairwell at the Northampton landmark on Thursday, July 16, 2020. The 22 shops and restaurants of the retail complex have returned to a full seven day schedule. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Scott Purcell, manager of Booklink Booksellers in Thornes Marketplace, talks Thursday about returning to a seven-day schedule with other shops and restaurants in the Main Street Northampton retail space. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The 22 shops and restaurants of Thornes Marketplace on Main Street in Northampton have returned to a seven-day schedule as of last Monday.  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mary DePisa, manager of Rebekah Brooks in Thornes Marketplace in Northampton talks about business at the jewelry store and nearby studio on Thursday, July 16, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Thornes Marketplace marketing manager Jody Doele stands outside the shopping complex’s display window on Main Street in Northampton on Thursday. The 22 shops and restaurants inside have returned to a full seven day schedule as of last Monday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Miles Porter-Phillips, an employee at the Northampton Olive Oil Company, talks about business in the Thornes Marketplace shop in Northampton on Thursday, July 16, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A patron glances into the Blue Marble on the first floor of Thornes Marketplace on Thursday, July 16, 2020. The building's 22 shops and restaurants have returned to a full seven day schedule as of last Monday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer 
Published: 7/19/2020 8:02:16 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Just walk into Thornes Marketplace and you’re likely to instantly notice some changes — door monitors now sit at entrances to ensure patrons are wearing face masks, “one-way” lanes are brightly marked on the ground to encourage social distancing, and hand sanitizing stations are sprinkled in and around shops.

Such precautions against the spread of COVID-19 may now feel like second nature to some patrons as businesses begin to reopen around the area. But they help both customers and employees stay safe with all of the shops at Thornes Marketplace — as of last Monday — now open seven days a week on reduced hours, according to Jody Doele, marketing manager at Thornes.

“We want people to know that we’re here for them, it’s a safe space and we’d love to see them,” Doele said.

After being forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Doele said Thornes Marketplace reopened on June 8 and asked its merchants to open five days a week. Now, Thornes is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The shopping center has implemented added precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as air filters, propping the entrance and exit doors open and the sanitization of the building every night.

Doele said Thornes has a total of 22 shops and restaurants as well as 10 or 12 office users; no store had to permanently shut down during the pandemic closure. Since Thornes reopened in June, Doele said there’s been much less foot traffic coming through the shopping center, though she did say last Saturday was their busiest day yet. She said Thornes will reassess foot traffic data in mid-August to see whether its hours should be expanded.

“Now that we’re open, that these folks are open, it’s not like all of the problems are solved and miracles occur. This is going to be the tough time,” Doele said. “Because they’re paying all of their bills, and they’re not getting a lot of revenue from sales.”

On the first floor of Thornes Marketplace Thursday morning, Cedar Chest store manager Dani Antes and business manager Dror Shmerling said the COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity for the business to create something that it had been looking to start for a while: an online store.

“That’s what saved us as a store,” Shmerling said. Employees have packed and shipped everything from the physical storefront, according to Shmerling. He said three managers put 20% of the entire store online by themselves.

Hand sanitizer can be found across the store, some displays were taken down, and directional markings on the ground help decongest areas that may lead to crowding. Employees must take their temperatures and report on 11 possible health issues before coming in to work, Shmerling said.

“We clean constantly,” Antes said.

Right next door, Miles Porter-Phillips, sales manager at the Northampton Olive Oil Co. was working behind a counter featuring a new plastic barrier erected to protect employees. The store provides samples of olive oils to its customers, but despite precautions by employees, some people coming in don’t feel comfortable with the samples because of COVID-19, they said.

“It’s a totally different experience working here now that COVID is happening,” Porter-Phillips said.

Outside of Booklink Booksellers, Northampton resident Jonathan Price said he came to Thornes to speak with the book store’s manager about a new book he was just starting to read. He said he doesn’t think it’s too early for Thornes Marketplace to open as he thought they did a good job with taking precautions.

“I feel OK with Thornes doing what they did,” Price said, adding he’s been less impressed with other stores that have reopened in Northampton. “It’s smart that they’re paying someone to sit at the door, and just be a reminder. Humans need reminding, unfortunately, about what some of us would consider ‘the obvious.’”

Down stairs marked with yellow directional arrows, natural foods store Cornucopia co-owner Jade Jump said her shop also pivoted to online orders while her store was closed. That helped keep the store, which she owns with her husband, Nate Clifford, afloat during that time, she said. New ordering methods implemented during the lockdown will likely stay as an option going forward, she said.

“We were really humbled by the number of orders that came in for us,” Jump said. “It was hard for us to keep up with them in the beginning.”

Cornucopia just opened physically three weeks ago, Jump said, and considering all of the outside factors, she said they’ve seen “pretty good” foot traffic.

Ellen LaFleche of Northampton came to Thornes on Thursday to shop at Cornucopia. She’s observed groups of people walking downtown without face masks, which bothers her, but said that in Thornes Marketplace she’s seen everyone wearing a mask. She praised Cornucopia’s new ordering methods and the extra plastic gloves and hand sanitizer posted outside of the store.

“I feel really safe,” LaFleche said.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.

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