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Reopening diaries

Bookstore owner aims to keep the faith, with the proper precautions

Heritage House owner Kelly Hoeg got the store ready for reopening as she restocked the shelves at the Christian book, music, and church supply store in Brockton.
Heritage House owner Kelly Hoeg got the store ready for reopening as she restocked the shelves at the Christian book, music, and church supply store in Brockton.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

―After nearly three months, businesses that have had to scale back their operations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 are reopening their doors to customers. The Boston Globe is sharing the experiences of small-business owners, in their own words, as they try to get back to work.


Kelly Hoeg

Co-owner, Heritage House in Brockton

Seller of Christian books, gifts, and church supplies

Hoeg and her husband bought the 56-year-old bookstore last year. At first, she responded to the COVID-19 shutdown by offering curbside pickup. But after Memorial Day, when churches were allowed to reopen, Hoeg decided to unlock her doors.

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If someone called and said, ‘Can I come in?’ I said yes, yes. Have your mask on. I have hand sanitizer. When Governor Baker gave the churches the go-ahead, because 50 percent of my business is church supplies, I was a little more lenient on being open to the public. Most of it was based on the decision that churches had the green light. We are a necessity to that, as Home Depot is to the construction worker.

So they needed stuff. I was here for them. But I didn’t feel like I could have a technical, full-on, ‘Hey, I’m open.’ I’m not announcing it on Facebook. I’m not doing any social media that says we’re open. It’s basically word-of-mouth.

My sales have been pretty good right now. People are chomping at the bit to come in . . . And I’m not advertising that we’re open, so I can’t imagine what’s going to happen once we say, hey, Heritage House is fully open. Come on back in. We’re kind of in the hopes that our doors will be breaking down.

We wash our doors constantly. As people come and go, I’m wiping down with disinfectants. I have hand sanitizer available in the bathrooms and on the front counter, so after every transaction we’re using that for ourselves, as well. Before the pandemic we made sure our shelves were very clean. For a bookstore to be dusty, that doesn’t feel good to me or the previous owner . . . I’m just maintaining that same thing. I do have signs on very specific things. We have anointing oils that people tend to want to open and smell. We have a sign on that: ‘Please do not open bottles.’

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In a perfect world, we’re going to have our income increase and we’re going to be able to restock when needed. So we’re riding a fine line . . . a little bit of sleepless nights, but trusting in God.


Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.