Church Street businesses encouraged by bustling Memorial Day weekend

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 11:40 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:23 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The scene on Church Street this Memorial Day was very different than it was this time last year, when stores were just starting to open up after the COVID shutdown.

“Compared to last it was crazy. We saw more than double of the people that we saw last year, more than double the sales we saw last year too, which was amazing,” says Emilie McCormack, the assistant manager at ECCO Clothes. She says it was a busy holiday weekend this year and that customers seem a lot more comfortable coming out to shop. Even though the weather was cold and rainy for much of the weekend, it didn’t put a damper on business. “Crummy weather days are great shopping days and people are definitely taking advantage of that and I think it’s the excitement of being out and about, talking to people, spending money, seeing people, and trying on clothing.”

Over at Homeport on Church Street, this weekend was a similar story. Co-owner Mark Bouchette says they were close to 2019 sales numbers. He says the way Burlington’s downtown has bounced back feels like a rebirth. “It’s a testament, I think, to the quality of Vermont character. And people behaved, they did what they needed to do to protect their neighbors and protect their loved ones and so here we are, enjoying the benefits of that,” says Bouchette.

Many patrons walking up and down Church Street were visiting from out of town or just out shopping for the day, something they say they wouldn’t have done last year. “I’m definitely a little more comfortable being around groups of people, it’s not as stressful,” says Matthew Morin of Burlington.

Thomas Reynolds and Nora Dutton are vacationing from Wisconsin. “Being out and socializing again for the first time is incredibly liberating,” Reynolds said.

“I would not have done this last year. At least this year, at least everyone knows what’s expected. With everyone so comfortable going out and interacting with people,” added Dutton.

“It’s good. It’s a little surreal. We didn’t really think we could get to this part. Having any event feels a little weird but it’s more normal, so we’re getting to that,” says Mariah Simpson of Pennsylvania, who was on her honeymoon with her husband, Shane.

Businesses also say that the busy weekend is an encouraging sign for the summer ahead.

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