Cinco De Mayo became an interesting backdrop for another celebration in Branson on May 5. Branson’s reason to celebrate was the COVID-19 restrictions that were lifted by the Board of Aldermen in a special meeting on May 4. Since March 23, the people of Branson had been unable to do leisurely shopping, gather in groups of more than 10 and the use of specific public parks.
There are still safety restrictions and regulations in place, since the city is phasing into its recovery. With more stores open for business, shoppers can purchase essential and non-essential items, but with controlled safety measures.
Due to the fact that most restaurants and lounges remain closed, and the size of public gatherings still an issue, the May 5 store openings were the first steps of the city moving forward.
The number of shoppers at Wild Orange Boutique, made owner Erin Wicker “elated” by the turnout.
“It far exceeded my expectations,” said Wicker. “I was overwhelmed by all of the local support I received today. People were excited to get out and shop and see other people. My customers kept telling me how excited they were that I was open. We had a very steady stream of customers.”
Wicker, who sells women’s clothing and unique accessories looks across a parking lot that faces a quiet Branson Landing.
“The Landing still hasn’t opened,” she said.
More than 80 percent of the stores at Branson Landing are still waiting for their designated opening dates. Some opened later in the week.
Gary and Kim Korieba, celebrating their 30th anniversary on May 5, were surprised to find their favorite restaurant open.
“It was surprising to find that one of our favorite restaurants had reopened on our anniversary (it was most likely because it was also Cinco de Mayo, but we’ll say it was for our 30th Anniversary),” she said. “After Branson being shut down for so long, it was wonderful to drive into town and see signs of life.”
The number of cars parked at restaurants around Branson on May 5, may indicate that people might be ready for someone else’s cooking or just wanted to breathe outside air for awhile. A few restaurants that had been taking orders and providing curbside service are once again seating people for inside dining.
“There were 10 other parties on the patio at Cantina Laredo and everyone looked really happy to be out and about, Kim Korieba said. “There weren’t many people just walking around the Landing, but the restaurants that we saw had business again.”
Managers at Golden Corral and Branson’s IMAX Entertainment Complex said they will announce their opening dates soon. The movie theaters in Branson plan on opening in June with all new releases.
Over at Branson Meadows Shopping Center Touch of Class, a formal wear store, was busy.
“Actually, I wasn’t expecting it to be as busy as it was, said Manager Halley Schultz. “It definitely kept us on our toes with keeping everything clean after every customer and keeping everyone spaced out.”
Since area schools announced they have decided to host proms and celebrate graduations, the decision to begin opening Branson’s clothing stores had many young ladies breathing sighs of relief.
“We have been seeing brides, grooms and prom girls,” said owner Lana Johnson. “The ladies are really happy to be planning their proms and weddings again and we are so happy to be part of these cherished events. Its been a good steady flow. The phones are ringing and the appointments are rolling in. I’m feeling optimistic.”
Johnson said the first reopening phase of the city was a smooth one.
“To be honest, I had definite anxiety about the idea that we wouldn’t be able to just open and go back to normal,” Johnson said. “That we’d have to over think everything and be so careful, that it would be stressful and take all the fun out of what we do. But, going into it well thought out, with very clear instructions for our staff, allowed us to really get into a new groove quickly. Our customers have been lovely. They’ve been very conscientious, and seem to really desire to follow the rules. To me, it was visible that people have adapted to the new world we are currently living in. I also think it’s kind of organically happening that Branson is having a slow rolling, opening of business, a little at a time. I have faith that we will weather this storm.”