As retailers reopened on Monday at limited capacity in Volusia County as part of Florida’s phased-in return to normal business, customers welcomed the opportunity to shop.

DAYTONA BEACH — There was a line of shoppers on Monday morning when the doors opened for the first time in over a month at Pink Narcissus fashion boutique at One Daytona, the retail, dining and entertainment complex across the street from Daytona International Speedway.


“I have missed it,” said Rebecca Dobbins, a retiree from Daytona Beach. “This is one of my favorite clothing stores, so I figure if I’m risking it (being out) I’ll come here.”


She wasn’t alone, as customers took advantage of the first opportunity to shop in the wake of loosened restrictions by Gov. Ron DeSantis that allow retail stores to reopen at 25% capacity to help the state rebound from the impact of the coronavirus crisis.


As part of the first phase of the governor’s plan to reopen the state, stores also must maintain groups of 10 or fewer customers only, with at least six feet of space between parties. Stores must abide by the safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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At Pink Narcissus, the morning crowd never reached the store’s 25% capacity of 30 customers, but business was brisk.


Store manager Melanie Dohrman Jacob was busy throughout the morning, serving a dozen or so shoppers awaiting a turn in one of the store’s dressing rooms, their arms laden with dresses or tops in fluorescent greens, blues and pinks, the handiwork of famed designer Lilly Pulitzer.


“It’s the first time in over a month that we’re open and we have a line!” Jacob said. “We’re considered a small business, since we’re privately owned, so people are coming in instead of shopping online, to support the store.”


The early birds included Suzy Layton, of New Smyrna Beach, who was eagerly stacking brightly colored blouses atop the pink baby stroller occupied by shopping companion Bella, her pet Yorkie. “This is her inaugural trip. I just got her right at the beginning of all this (the pandemic), so she’s never had the shopping experience.”


Layton was among those grateful for the opportunity to get out of the house as much as the shopping.


“As long as we do it the wise way, this is the way to go,” she said of the governor’s phased-in approach to returning to business-as-usual. “We need to be respectful and cautious.”


Despite online shopping options, Layton prefers patronizing brick-and-mortar stores, she said.


“I’m a tangible shopper,” she said. “I realize I can do all this online, but I like to touch it and feel it.”


Although it was a busy morning at the boutique, many stores at One Daytona and other area malls remained closed by midday Monday.


’More than ready’


At Volusia Mall, a cluster of a dozen or so shoppers waited eagerly at the outside entrance to Dillard’s, but the doors to the darkened department store never opened, even though the mall itself did reopen.


“I’m more than ready” to shop, said Summer Baker, a retiree from Ormond Beach who was among those in line outside Dillard’s. “When those doors open, this interview is over. I bet they’ve got an untouched spring collection that they didn’t sell because they’ve been closed.”


Although Baker is concerned about the virus, she likes the phased-in approach to reopening the state.


“I think they will do it moderately and that’s a really good idea,” she said. “So we’ll see what happens. I’ve got a feeling we’re not over this yet.”


Inside Volusia Mall, most stores hadn’t yet reopened by midday Monday and few customers strolled the silent corridors.


There were a few diners at Mr. Dunderbak’s Bavarian Delicatessen & Restaurant, a mall fixture since 1975. To comply with social distancing guidelines, owner Ted Teschner had moved four of the restaurant’s tables into the concourse, with permission from mall management.


“The mall let us do that, which we’ve never done before, and it was very kind of them,” Teschner said. “We had people walk right in the door when we opened this morning, so that’s nice.”


Mr. Dunderbak’s had been closed 44 days because of the pandemic, time that was used to do a deep cleaning of the restaurant and develop new procedures that include the availability of condiments by request only and a process for disinfecting those containers between uses, Teschner said.


“I spent hours on my hands and knees scraping down everything,” he said. “It’s never been so clean since the day we opened. Not a thing went untouched.”


There also are new procedures at the mall itself, where groups of more than 10 people are prohibited from congregating in common areas and all events are canceled or postponed until further notice.


Also closed for now at Volusia Mall are food court seating areas, the children’s play area and other gathering places as well as drinking fountains.


Stores can reopen at their discretion, said Stacey Keating, spokeswoman for Volusia Mall owner CBL & Associates Properties.


“We expect a handful of stores to reopen today and that others will gradually reopen over the next several days,” Keating said.


Likewise, at Tanger Outlets mall, only a few stores were open on Monday and few shoppers were walking the outdoor corridors.


Stores there also will be reopening at their discretion, so shoppers are advised to check retailer websites for updated information, said Alexa Kapuscinski, a mall spokeswoman.


Tanger is providing masks to all employees and contracted vendors and requiring them to be worn on premises. Playgrounds, interactive features and gathering spaces are closed until further notice and employees are asked to take their temperatures prior to work shifts.


At one of the reopened Tanger stores, the Destination Fun toy store, owner Kevin Kasch said that it has been “really tough” to survive after being closed since March 18.


By midday Monday, there had been only a trickle of customers, he said, although the store has instituted online ordering at DestinationFunstores.com and curbside pickup.


Although Kasch welcomes the chance to serve customers, he also is concerned about the pace of the state’s effort to reopen.


“I just feel like we might be rushing back a little too quickly and it might be worse for us in the end,” he said. “I live in New Smyrna Beach and the beaches were full yesterday. But it’s not crazy here (in the store), that’s for sure.”


Among the toy store’s customers on Monday were Robert Washburn and Alexis Jacquart, who bought a stuffed bear.


“It’s nice to be able to go out and shop again to help businesses that need it,” said Washburn, 28, who said he has been working nonstop at a warehouse job in the food distribution business. “It’s always nice to support local businesses.”