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Freeport businesses cautiously optimistic over Phase One of reopening

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Freeport businesses are cautiously optimistic about their future as Long Island began the Phase One reopening of its battered economy on May 27. 

Phase One allows construction and wholesale trade companies to restart operations, along with retailers for curbside pickup only. 

Susan Martin, who’s family runs Duryea’s Flower Shop at 70 Guy Lombardo Ave., said she was glad the shop could begin opening up for customers to pick up their orders. The shop had begun curbside pickup since Mother’s Day, but now customers can pick up their orders in the store. 

While Martin would prefer to return to the days when her customers could browse the shop for plants and flowers, she’s glad that Freeport’s economy could start moving forward. 

“A lot of businesses are struggling to pay their bills and rent,” Martin said. “It’s a scary time we’re in, but I hope that everyone can open up soon and have customers buying again.” 

Mike Sorrentino, of the Nassau Hobby Center at 13 W Merrick Road, said the hobby shop has been able to operate through curbside pickup since the pandemic began. He said the store was working on an official reopening on Thursday or Friday. 

“We’re hoping this can get more happy customers coming to the store,” Sorrentino said. 

Despite the reopening plans, some businesses in Freeport said Phase One will not be enough to help them. 

Millie Kaland, who runs the Sea Horse Gift Shop with her husband at 165 Woodcleft Ave., on the Nautical Mile, said her shop depends on people entering her store and browsing the merchandise. And with restaurants still only operating by takeout or delivery, there is not enough foot traffic on the Nautical Mile to attract customers. 

Kaland added that her business, which has been in Freeport for 29 years, relies on summer revenue, much like many of the other businesses in Freeport. She said coming out of the winter and into the Covid-19 closures has hurt these businesses tremendously, and she fears many might not survive the next winter. 

“We lost Memorial Day and the Freeport Festival, which are big shopping days,” Kaland said. “Hopefully we can get that business back through Father’s Day, the shark tournament and the Fourth of July, but we might see a lot of small businesses disappear from Freeport.” 

Kaland and other business owners hope Phase Two of reopening could begin as soon as possible.   

The reopening of the economy will play out by region in three distinct phases:

Phase Two: Professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate, rental and leasing. 

Phase Three: Restaurants and food services, beyond takeout and delivery.

Phase Four: Arts, entertainment and recreation, and education.

"As more regions of the state begin reopening," Cuomo tweeted Tuesday, "we are carefully monitoring health data to make sure that everything is going in the right direction. We rely on science and data to guide us — not emotion or politics."