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Businesses welcome a more normal Mother’s Day

FLOWERS — Susan Freshour, owner of Wilkin Flowers and Gifts, prepares to set out a floral arrangement for Mother’s Day with help from staff member Brenda Taylor. Many businesses that see a larger amount of business on the holiday are welcoming a move toward normalcy after being limited by pandemic restrictions. -- Warren Scott

Holidays such as Mother’s Day usually mean greater sales for many businesses, but last year the pandemic skewed normal shopping patterns for various reasons.

This year, as public health restrictions are lifted or reduced, many area businesses are hoping for more activity at the cash register.

Last year, orders against indoor patronage of restaurants were lifted only a week or two after Mother’s Day, when many restaurants offer special dinners to attract families looking to give moms a day off from cooking.

Greg Froehlich, owner of Froehlich’s Classic Corner, said while the Steubenville restaurant provided many take-out dinners for the occasion, as well as Easter, sales were much lower than normal.

“We did about 30 percent of our typical business,” said Froehlich, who added public health restrictions and concerns about spread of COVID-19 led to many canceling reservations for private parties in the months that followed.

He said given the circumstances, he refunded all deposits paid for such events.

Froehlich said the restaurant’s Mother’s Day buffet will return Sunday with some minor changes.

The biggest will be that staff wearing gloves and masks will serve food from the buffet table, which will contain the same large amount and assortment of food, he noted.

Froehlich said to maintain social distancing, he’s prepared to seat up to 40 percent of the restaurant’s capacity, about 120 people.

“That’s what we did for Easter and it worked out well,” he said.

Froehlich said some are not yet comfortable with exposure to others in a restaurant setting but he’s beginning to see an uptick in daily traffic as well as reservations for private celebrations.

Richard Saxon of R.E. Saxon Jewelers said the Weirton business also experiences higher sales for Mother’s Day.

“Moms are always important to everyone. It’s one of our busiest times,” he said.

Saxon said last year, his was among businesses that turned to accepting telephone orders and offering curbside deliveries so it could continue to serve patrons.

He said to weather the pandemic’s impact on walk-in traffic, “You had to be innovative.”

Saxon said visits to the store have increased in recent months.

“People are feeling a lot more comfortable and are excited about getting out,” he said while adding he will continue to take precautions recommended by public health officials.

Saxon, who shelved plans to celebrate the business’ 50th anniversary last year, said he expects brighter days ahead.

“We’re optimistic. It (Mother’s Day business) has already been good. We’ve received a lot of pre-orders,” he said.

Mary Ann Freeze, owner of the Prodigal Daughter, said the Steubenville gift shop had been open for ja little more than a year when it temporarily closed as one of many businesses deemed non-essential.

“It’s a struggle just to let people know you’re here and then you can’t open your doors. It’s hard,” she said.

Freeze said she takes pride in offering unusual items not found everywhere and really must be seen to be appreciated.

She said she’s edging toward the Internet to advertise and sell her merchandise but opened the business because she enjoys the personal interaction with patrons.

Freeze said many of her customers enjoy browsing and, fortunately, that’s gradually picking up.

Susan Freshour, owner of Wilkin Flowers and Gifts of Wellsburg, noted it helped that her business already dealt with telephone orders and deliveries.

“Our sales haven’t dropped at all. We’ve been very blessed,” she said, adding Mother’s Day “is a large phone order holiday.”

Some florists reported a decline last year in orders for funerals, which they attributed to funeral services being postponed by families avoiding large gatherings while the pandemic was at its peak.

Freshour said that may be true, but she believes families also have reduced visitation hours in recent years for economic and geographic reasons.

But she added she’s thankful her doors are open for visitors to peruse the shop’s line of gift items.

“I feel very fortunate. When there are people out of work, we’ve still been able to do business,” Freshour said.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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