MERIDEN — The Thompson Chocolate retail store had to close to the public in March when the pandemic first began.
The South Vine Street store recently reopened under COVID-19 guidelines.
“From our interactions with our customers over the last two days since reopening, I think there is a sigh of relief and also a bit of excitement that customers can come back in,” said Kevin Scarpati, sales and marketing manager. “We’re excited to greet and see our customers physically, but I also hope that for those who found it difficult or challenging to order something online or couldn’t make it here on the one day a week where we had the online curbside pickup option available, that it’s easier for our customers.”
It was important for Thompson Chocolate to offer curbside pickup, according to Scarpati.
“It was certainly a learning experience for all of us,” Scarpati said. “It was important for us to provide that to the public because Easter ... is typically our busiest holiday in our retail store ... It was not only important for us to be able to offer our chocolate products to our customers but also still remain open for business.”
The retail store is in the same building as the manufacturing facility.
“We wanted to prohibit any potential cross contamination from our retail store to the manufacturing facility where we’ll have anywhere from 60 or more employees working at a given time producing our chocolate,” Scarpati said.
In order to reopen, COVID-19 protocols had to be put in place. Masks must be worn, only five customers are allowed in the store at once and sanitization has increased.
“After (customers) leave, I sanitize the baskets or the keypads that have been touched, door handles, a couple times a day,” said Kim Poole, store manager.
Currently, the store is open three days a week — Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We hope to expand our hours as we get closer to our holiday season. It’s obviously when we will see more traffic in our store,” he said.