by Sue Ann Rybak
“Chestnut Hill is open for business,” said Philip Dawson, the executive director of Chestnut Hill Business District (CHBD) in a telephone interview on June 12. He said on Friday that the CHBD recently launched a temporary new logo with a variety of bright buildings with open doors and a sign that says, “Come in, we’re open.”
While many Chestnut Hill non-essential businesses decided to reopen on Friday, June 5, the day Philadelphia entered the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan, Dawson said many of them are “ramping up their hours or adding a variety of services.”
To help keep the public informed, the CHBD added a page to its website at chestnuthillpa.com/open/. The page lists what stores are open, their hours, and their services.
He said every business varies.
“One retailer told me she is going to open seven days a week because she wants to get as much business as she can. Other retailers are being a little bit more conservative. They want to make sure they keep their staff and cash roll under control. Every business owner has to make the decision that’s best for them,” he said.
Kristen Spangenberg, manager of Bone Appetite, 8517 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, said her store reopened on June 5.
“We are so happy to see our human and doggy friends again,” she said.
She said it was hard to tell clients that they couldn’t groom their pets’ hair.
“We wish we could have been open during the quarantine because many dogs need regular grooming because mating can cause severe skin irritations,” Spangenberg said.
When asked if the lack of grooming can be a health issue, she said, “It can be depending on your dog’s type of coat or skin issues.”
She said their phones have been ringing off the hook since they have started taking appointments for grooming. As of June 13, they are booked through June.
When asked what comments she has received from customers, she replied: “We are so glad you’re back; my dog is so hairy and needs an appointment as possible.” She added other clients said they tried to groom their dog themselves, and now “it looks horrible!”
Cynthia Fillmore, owner of Windfall Gallery, 7944 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, said she decided to wait until Wednesday, June 10, to open the store because she wanted to focus on “the movement of Black Lives Matter and the tragedy of George Floyd.”
When asked about the threat of looting, which prompted most business owners in Chestnut Hill to board up their stores earlier this month, she said “It was upsetting and worrisome for everybody.”
However, she added for business owners, it “was a bit more stressful” because they had to secure their businesses as well as the inventory inside. Fillmore said, while she ultimately decided not to board up her business after discussing it with her landlord and neighbor, she still decided to remove the inventory from her shop because that gave her “peace of mind.”
Recently, on June 13, Fillmore and several other business owners, community members, and friends took “a Knee in Silence” for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor the life of George Floyd. The event, which occurred at 9:45 a.m. on the 8400 block of Germantown Avenue, wasn’t assembled by any specific organization.
“It was just an idea that one person had, and it blossomed into this beautiful gesture,” Fillmore said. “After the first minute, your knee starts to ache a little bit, and you realize ‘This officer had his knee on this man’s neck, and everything does come to play in your mind. I cried. It was powerful and moving at the same time.”
Fillmore said it feels great to be connected with the community again.
“It feels so great to be open and back,” she said. “I missed my customers terribly. My customers are awesome. Honestly, if it weren’t for my customers, I would not still be here. They have supported me so much through the closure, and I am just happy to be able to see their faces again. It’s great.”
Fillmore added she is still offering virtual shopping, curbside pickup, free local delivery, and will continue to ship merchandise anywhere.
“I will continue to do my Windfall Wednesday series live on Facebook and Instagram,” she said.
She said she is currently, having a 50 percent off sale.
“It’s half off select items and a small selection of clothing,” she said
Of course, Fillmore added she is following CDC guidelines; all employees and customers are required to wear a mask. She has three different hand sanitizing stations in the store, and she is continuously disinfecting surfaces.
Summer on the Hill
Dawson said, in addition to posting businesses’ hours and services on the Chestnut Hill Business District’s website, CHBD will be promoting its “Summer on the Hill” marketing campaign.
He said they are going to pitch Chestnut Hill to the media as an attractive destination for day trips because it’s a place you can get outside and shop in small shops and do outdoor dining.
“You can enjoy the atmosphere of the garden district and not be around large crowds or have to spend too much time indoors,” he said. “We are going to be offering some different theme weekends throughout the summer, where people can get out and enjoy the garden district. Even though we can’t do traditional festivals, we are still going to be announcing some activities that we have on certain weekends.
“An example would be in the past we have done Petapoolza in the Summertime. We are doing a weekend pet stroll one weekend in July. We are going to be doing a Home & Garden Stroll with things that are going to be outdoors instead of a traditional festival. So, there are going to be modifications.”
Dawson said he hoped people will still be excited about coming out because it will not only be fun but “safe and secure.”