WESTFIELD – Three locally owned neighboring businesses on School Street had a ribbon cutting ceremony April 9 to celebrate each of their recent grand openings.
The three businesses, Hilltown Chic, Be Bella Boutique, and Boho Hair Studio, each opened their doors within the last four months, even as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic brings struggles to local businesses.
The ceremony drew a crowd of dozens on School Street and was led by Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr. State Sen. John C. Velis and state Rep. Kelly W. Pease offered remarks.
“I think we can all agree this is a great reawakening of our downtown in spring time and a post-COVID era,” said Humason.
Humason said it was brave of the new business owners to open their stores during the pandemic, and congratulated them on their endeavors.
“Our community is open for business,” said Humason.
Be Bella Boutique owner Bethany Liquori said that her business started as a mobile clothing boutique about 18 months ago, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Her physical store on School Street opened in February.
“When the pandemic hit I really focused on my online and social media presence,” said Liquori, “I felt it was time to move up a little bit. These spaces were available and the rent was great.”
Hilltown Chic owner Cassie cyr opened her store on Dec. 15, as the winter wave of COVID-19 was beginning to escalate. Her shop sells small gifts, candles, gag gifts, and a lot of items themed after the recently-concluded sitcom “Schitts Creek.”
“I got the keys on Thanksgiving and I did it all in about three weeks,” said cyr, “It was really tough, and really scary. You know, it’s a big risk. I figured it was a time where people need to laugh and have fun.”
Boho Hair Studio owner Tristin Denton just opened her studio on March 2. She simply described the difficulty of opening the studio during a pandemic as “10 out of 10” due to COVID-19 guidelines. Despite the difficulty, she has found no shortage of business since she opened her doors.
“This is my first day off since opening,” said Denton.
She said that there has been quite a backlog of people who have not had a proper haircut for most of the pandemic.