Downtown businesses began a delicate opening Saturday, a day after Gov. Larry Hogan began Stage 1 of Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery, which opened retail stores at 50 percent capacity based on maximum occupancy prescribed by the local fire marshal.

Stage 1 excluded sit-in service for bars and restaurants, which will come in Stage 2 barring any spikes in deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.

All the retailers the Pilot spoke with expressed relief to be open again, but many mused about the absence of the Farmers’ Market at Fountain Park, which is a big draw for their Saturday businesses. One retailer said that Saturday traffic from the market accounted for almost half a week’s total revenue.

But overall all businesses said they saw traffic and had some sales, and all expressed hope for better times ahead.

Most of the businesses had signs insisting that customers maintain the six-foot standard for social distancing and wear a mask while in the store.

“I was anxious as I headed into work on Saturday,” said Michelle Timmons, owner of Houston’s Dockside Emporium. “I was pleasantly surprised.” Timmons is a second-generation retailer celebrating 30 years on High Street.

“I was happy to see that customers were following the guidelines following social distancing and wearing masks,” Timmons said.

Timmons gave a shout out to Chestertown Main Street’s downtown marketing efforts and the gift certificate campaign.

Mary Ann Thompson of Centreville came from Centreville on business and stopped into Houston’s to shop.

“I’m glad you’re open,” Thompson said.

Feature image: Michelle Timmons demonstrates proper employee and shopper masking as she welcomes customers back Saturday morning.

Twigs continues to be open by appointment only

Bookplate is only open for online business at this point, but offered up the gift of books on a stand outside the store.