Marlene England is trying her best to prepare for the future reopening of her two stores in downtown Frederick. The problem is, she has no idea what that’s going to look like.

“Our main concern is certainly keeping our staff safe and our customers safe and at the same time being able to get our businesses open and running as close to normal as possible,” said England, co-owner of Curious Iguana and Dancing Bear.

According to Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to reopen, the first step, which can be taken when hospitalizations have been on the decline for 14 consecutive days, would allow small businesses to offer curbside pickup again.

That’s something concrete she can deal with. Curious Iguana and Dancing Bear were doing curbside pickup up until Hogan announced the shelter-in-place order and forbade nonessential businesses from doing any services besides delivery and mail orders.

But while Hogan’s plan has guidelines in place, she and other business owners around Frederick don’t know how the public will react, or how the experience of shopping, dining out and exercising could be changed for the long term.

“It’s not just the guidelines, you know,” said Brett Kraimer, owner of the Frederick cycling studio CycleFit. “It’s one thing to open, it’s another thing if people want to come in.”

Helen Propheter, director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, doesn’t know how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the county in the long term. Nobody does.

“I think when we’ve gone into recessions because of economic issues [before], our economists can look at what put us into that recession and what needs to happen to come out,” Propheter said. “But the economy wasn’t hurt because of economic issues, it was hurt because of a health pandemic.”

While businesses are still looking to expand to Frederick or lay down roots in the county, Propheter is more concerned with keeping the county’s existing businesses open.

“Frederick County has amazing businesses with lots of creativity and passion and grit. And that’s what we’re going to need to get through this,” Propheter said. “Unfortunately there’s going to be some businesses that aren’t going to bounce back.”

Gerry Hicks, co-owner of The Trail House, an outdoor supplies store on Market Street, attends webinars and reads advice from retail experts to try to get a handle on what to expect. Hicks, who owns the store with her husband, said they’ve considered adding hand sanitizing stations and limiting the number of people who can shop inside the store at a time, or setting up appointments for people to come in and shop.

“Social distancing isn’t going to go anywhere in the next couple of months,” Hicks said. “We might lay our store out differently so people feel comfortable staying further apart.”

The Hickses were getting ready to pass on the business to their son and retire when the pandemic hit. Now it looks like those plans have been pushed off indefinitely as they try to make sure the store is stable.

Their son set the store up for online ordering, something they didn’t have prior to the pandemic. And while the circumstances for needing it were severe, Hicks said that it will definitely be sticking around after the store is allowed to be open again.

“We have been a brick and mortar store for 35 years, that’s what we’ve built our business on,” Hicks said. “Here in a matter of weeks we’ve really had to switch gears and go online, which … it’s been working.”

People seem to be more interested in purchasing outdoor equipment than before.

“The outdoor industry has fared very well during a recession because people hunker down a little more, stay close, find new adventures nearby,” Hicks said. “That’s kind of the upside, if there is one.”

Hogan’s first phase will allow gyms to hold outdoor workout classes and his second phase will allow them to reopen with limited numbers of people in the building at a time.

Kraimer is less concerned about the guidelines and more concerned about his entire industry changing in the course of a few weeks.

He’s had to adapt.

When gyms closed and people had to start working out at home, instead of going to gyms, they were looking up any kind of workout they could follow online. That’s a much larger pool to compete with.

“Everybody’s able to enjoy their favorite instructors and their favorite fitness facilities, everybody can do that at home now … and a lot of people really enjoy it and they enjoy the flexibility and variety,” Kraimer said.

He doesn’t think business as usual will ever be usual again for gyms. Instead of figuring out how to survive until he can reopen his doors, he’s focused on making sure he can deliver his product — workout classes — to people in a digital way, that doesn’t require human contact.

CycleFit has been broadcasting 25 workout classes per week on its website for free. They won’t always be free, Kraimer said, and he already has paid content on the app ImagineBC. But he knows he has to get into the digital fitness game to keep his business going.

“Whether it’s your own capital, it’s PPP (the Paycheck Protection Program), it’s economic disaster, if you’re using all that just to stay afloat so you can reopen your doors, you won’t be in business by the end of the year. No way. Period,” Kraimer said. “You have to find other sources of revenue, other ways to deliver your product or your service. And you can’t wait. You’ve got to be ahead of it.”

Hicks and England both said they’re going to keep their online ordering platforms going long after the state reopens. Neither store had an online ordering system beforehand, but being able to ship to customers anywhere or giving customers another option never hurts.

England does think, though, that most people will come back to downtown Frederick like they used to.

“I feel like when the time is right and it’s safe to shop downtown, that folks will continue to be very supportive of the downtown businesses,” England said. “That means so much to us.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley.

(29) comments


The cost to open or not!


And even when people wear masks, many don't wear them correctly. Stepped in the Walmart in Frederick yesterday. Many employees and customers didn't have their noses covered. Some customers just removed their masks once they got past the bouncer. They need to start issuing those $5k fines.


Per the order those with respiratory issues are not required to wear a mask. You have a 99.6% chance of not being affected by the virus. If you are still this concerned perhaps you should stay at home and do your shopping online.

Greg F

Uncertainty?! Chaos! H-Mart was incredibly irresponsible today packed with people and none following distancing guidelines...and one idiot inside yakking on her phone-mask off. Said a few nasty things at them and Berliner it right back out. Health department needs to shut this place down if they can’t deal with crowds.

Greg F

Bee-line.... stupid autocorrect


The health department should shut down H-Mart in general, its a disgusting dirty place.


Never stepped in there since Giant pulled out. What makes it so disgusting and dirty? Just wondering.


Take a look at some of the numbers in today's article about Covid-19 and see if you can tell where the hotspots in Frederick County are:

"But in April alone, more than 900 county residents received positive COVID-19 test results, which is about 18 percent of all tests done in the county during the month, said Deputy Health Officer Dr. Randall Culpepper.

As of April 30, there were a total of 5,155 tests conducted on Frederick County residents. Of those tests, 935 were positive and 4,220 were negative, Culpepper said, based on information provided to the county health department from the Maryland Department of Health.

Of the 61 deaths, 85 percent have been related to long-term care facilities in the county. Another 13 percent are hospital patients, with the caveat that the number of hospitalized patients include some residents and employees at long-term care facilities who had been hospitalized at some point in their illness, Culpepper said"

It's time to start reopening the economy. The goverment cannot continue to print money as a way out.


Things are not going back to how they were. Startup will involve reduced capacity for just about everything for years. And demand is going to be way down until people know it's safe. So you want to sacrifice lives...for what? A limping, crippled economy? Stupid. We need testing, testing, testing. There is no shortcut out of this, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a sociopath, a moron, or both. Hogan is none of those things. Internet commenters, OTOH...


Please expalin what testing will prove and how it will relate to reopening the economy.


Right now, we don't know who is walking around without symptoms spreading it to everybody. If we knew who was positive, we could focus on keeping them at home until their infection has passed while everyone else reopens the economy. We could also track down the people with whom the infected have been recently interacting.


Fiver, thanks for posting "Right now, we don't know who is walking around without symptoms spreading it to everybody. If we knew who was positive, we could focus on keeping them at home until their infection has passed while everyone else reopens the economy. We could also track down the people with whom the infected have been recently interacting."...... by your scenario, everyone within the state of Maryland would need to be tested before the econonmy could reopen. We would then need to restest frequently to ensure that someone with a negative test does not become positive. Then the government would need some way to ensure that those with a positive test stay quarantined - but for how long? Those who test negative would need to carry some sort of proof with them since they will be out and about returning to work and the marketplace. How would the government enforce quarantines for those who test positive? Big Brother at work.

There idea behind the lockdown was to keep the virus from spreading so rapidly that it would overwhelm the health care system. It was not to keep the economy on lockdown until there was a zero death rate. Maryland has finally admitted that the vast majority of the deaths to Covid-19 is in congregate living facilities. Those are the hotspots and mandatory testing of staff and residents is starting. Why not keep the congregate living facilities locked down and let the rest of the state reopen and people get on with work and play?


Not sure why you don’t have empathy for the elderly? “ Full Metal ‘Jacket’... Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?!!!”

But youmay want to get a better grasp on how the government is paying for the stimulus packages. You miss understand.

It’s called “debt”, verses printing ‘play money’. Interest rates are at 0%. The Federal Reserve can and does create money, and it can and does use that money to buy government bonds. That’s what the Fed did during the Great Recession of 2007-09, and that’s what it is doing now. To be precise, the Fed isn’t giving money directly to the Treasury (printing money). The Fed is, in effect, buying government IOUs (Treasury bonds) from private investors or foreign governments who have lent money to the Treasury. There’s plenty of money out there. People and institutions with savings are particularly eager to invest the money in U.S. Treasury debt right now. When you see Interest rates go up, that’s after the money printing starts.


How much of that debt is held by China?




It's way to soon to open Maryland, I understand people are frustrated but the death toll keeps going up everyday. All these other states that are reopening for the mighty dollar are just putting there citizens in a lot of danger. Nobody has patience anymore.


Yup. I totally agree


How patient would you be if you couldn’t feed your family? It’s time to let those who are not high risk get back to work!


As a front line worker that would be the most foolish mistake that we could do period. There's quite a lot of organizations that will help with food. I guess your 1 of those who feel the dollar is worth more than lives!!


I think that it is great that you all have found other ways to get your business out there and it doesn't just reach the Frederick County Area which could be good for your business. I do hope that you can continue to make progress with your businesses and I hope that when we do open up that you can continue to grow. Best wishes to you


Kudos to ingenious small business owners! Furthermore their precious possession, according to the Book of Proverbs, is diligence: diligent hands will rule!! But I feel sorry for them because of reduced transactions and future uncertainties. Who did this to them?

Blame China the evil empire! Look how it crippled our businesses, our great schools, our national life! And it is profiting off inferior PPE equipment & supplies sold to U.S.!

The statistics and updates of daily toll are alarming and numbing. Gathering from the studies, it seems that one thousandth will die of COVID19. And as the White House doctors pointed out, one out of every 100 infected will die. Dr. Fauci pointed out that the infection rate is TEN TIMES the rate of common viruses.

And thus the estimated 100,000-240,000 death in U.S. cannot be mitigated without intervention from above. This alarming numbers should drive leaders and lay to our knees to pray sincerely--as President George Washington did--and with contrition for our wrongdoings to the one true God of heaven and earth and Christ His Son, for Their deliverance.

White House trending assessment is correct: China under reported its casualties to save face-- and greed. Proverbs 12:26 states, one who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor but the way of the wicked leads them (their neighbors) astray. On Monday, Navarro charged that during the time it delayed reporting, China “vacuumed up the world for personal protective equipment” needed by healthcare workers. “And today China’s profiteering basically from this situation,” he added.

What shame, disgrace, and treachery! Dr. Birx highlighted how China hid critical information about the outbreak. She said that on February 3, the head of the W.H.O. said there was no reason to ever do a travel ban! And it wasn’t until January 14th that we knew that there was human-to-human transmission. THE VIRUS HAD ALREADY REACHED U.S AS EARLY AS JANUARY!

When the pandemic has passed, nearly 10 million people worldwide, reported and unknown, will have died due to coronavirus. China is to blame for the greater death. In effect China has mass destructed the entire world without launching a single nuclear missile. BLAME CHINA THE EVIL EMPIRE FOR RUINING OUR WONDERFUL GOD-GIVEN ECONOMY-- OUR CREATIVE, RESOURCEFUL, INVENTIVE SMALL BUSINESSES!



Alice Jones

Safe - settle down and step away from fox news and the cool aid.


Starting a war with China (actual war or a cold war) won't bring our dead back and won't cure our sick.

Before we go blaming China we better make certain it's actually their fault! The Trump administration is already trying to force the intelligence community to say as much regardless of proof. How did that work for us when Bush only wanted to hear that Iraq certainly had WMD's and wouldn't wait to let the evidence speak for itself?

I think we need to slow down and wait for the real evidence to show itself, not try to rush to find someone to blame. Sure, if China knowingly released this on the world, they should pay dearly, but there's no evidence of that right now. If (and it's a big IF right now) it accidentally escaped from a lab in China, well, that's much trickier to figure out how we should respond. Sure, it would help Trump if he had someone to blame but *should* we blame them? They same thing could happen at Fort Detrick and ALMOST did happen. The CDC recently shut their labs down for a slew of violations which easily could have resulted in the release of a contagion. Let's stop and think about what our government's response would have been if that had happened. Do you think the Trump administration would have alerted to the world that the US released a contagion that could cause a pandemic and release all the actual numbers and data? There's zero chance that would happen.

There's evidence Covid-19 was infecting people in multiple countries several months before the outbreak in Wuhan. So, let's just slow down and wait for evidence to lead us without jumping to conclusions.

About the claim China “vacuumed up the world for personal protective equipment”, they had the first major outbreak so they were able to purchase large amounts if supplies before the strain on the supply chains, exactly the same as we would have done if we would have prepared early instead of assuming this would end like SARs, MERs, swine flu, bird flu, etc. and not be an issue in the US. As far as the complaint that China is now profiting from selling us supplies, some of which are inferior, we have ourselves to blame for that one! The US used to be a manufacturing machine, producing a good pirtion of the world's products but we realized we realized we could move factories to poorer countries where workers would work for pennies and we could buy the products way cheaper than we could produce them for ourselves. Our corporations became greedy and quarterly earnings reports and stock prices became much more important than where we produced the goods we were selling. We did that to ourselves, that's not China's fault and now people despise China for it. We gave away our manufacturing and our technology and now we are paying dearly for it. So, even if we do decide China has blame for somehow creating this pandemic (which again we are NOT to that point yet) we don't have many options for what to realistically do about it. Most all of our products and our pharmaceuticals come from China even most of our raw materials now come from China. They now own many of our businesses and much of our national debt. They could easily destroy our economy just by selling off the sstocks they own for peenies on the dollar alone, not to mention all the other avenues they have to destroy us if they decided they wanted to. And we have put ourselves in this position, we did this to ourselves. We created a giant and now we need to think twice before starting a battle with it.


It does not take much to convince that wet markets need to be shut down for good. What happened there could happen here

If we learn anything at all.

Greg F

Oh just shut up. You know nothing of how anything really works unless you have been there in person.


I'm an older vulnerable person with a daughter adopted from China. She is naturalized and remembers no other home. As an adult she researches stress in children and contributes to multiple school systems as she pursues her Masters. There is no reason for her to personally endure the hostility she risked with each and every encounter before this lockdown. Now she is home and hasn't been out. I'm sure you'd say your comments aren't personal but some lesser beings take them at face value and run. Bill Maher says our meat handling is basically as risky as any wet market

Greg F

Trump blabbing on like a racist goon isn’t helping either. Maybe pence didn’t like his mask but he and trump sure seem to want to wear hoods and burn crosses.


If China launches a nuclear weapon, I'll happily blame them....but I'll also blame Donald J. Trump if he goes on national television calls the missile a politically-motivated hoax until it explodes on US soil.

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