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    McKnight & Brown owner Bernie Brown said the lockdown period was the most challenging in his 50-year business operation. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

    SOUTHLAND business owners will be opening their doors and welcoming customers in today as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

    The Government announced on Monday businesses would be allowed to open from today, when New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2.

    One Invercargill shop owner said she could not wait to see the smiles of her customers again.

    Found My Way co-owner Hailey Cundall said she was “ecstatic”  with the news.

    Found my way owners Hailey Cundall and Jan Weeler are ready to welcome their customers. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

    “It was the news we were hoping for but of course we need to put the safety of everyone first.

    “We are ready.”

    During the lockdown period, a click and collect system had been developed so customers could still buy from the gift shop in the Windsor shopping area of Invercargill.

    She described the new way of business as a “silver lining”. However, she was still missing her customers.

    “It is a completely different experience for customers to purchase online and instore.

    “I’m so looking forward to reconnecting with the customers and being back in the store.”

    Staff would be taking precautionary measures to ensure products were clean and would be encouraging customers to “look with their eyes” rather than picking up items to inspect.

    “In Level 3, we cleaned the whole store from top to bottom it is sparkling clean. We will also have a hand sanitiser station at the door.

    “We have also shuffled some stuff in the store so customers can have more space.”

    Brides by Donna Rae owner Donna Rae Dawson had also had to change procedures at her wedding dress shop.

    Consultants would usually dress a bride, but they would be asked to dress themselves in order to keep to the one-metre social distance rule.

    Dresses would be steam cleaned after they had been tried on and staff would also disinfect any metal and surfaces.

    “We have also reduced the time of our appointments from an hour-and-a-half to to one hour. Staff will be wearing gloves and the bride can use a mask if she feels more comfortable.

    “But honestly, I want to see the smile of the bride because it is the best thing about my job.”

    The store would be busy in the first few weeks as a lot of appointments had been postponed, she said.

    During the lockdown, she had created a system where brides could choose their dress via Zoom with it then being delivered to them.

    “We had to think outside the square and almost 99% of the brides who chose to do it that way, found their dresses from home.”

    McKnight & Brown owner Bernie Brown said the lockdown period was a challenging time for his business.

    “In almost 50 years of business, we never closed the store for such a long time.

    “More than ever the community and other businesses need to support the local businesses. It’s essential.”Best SneakersNike Air Max 270