Back to business: O’Hurley’s reopens after three-month closure
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Three months ago, O’Hurley’s General Store owner Jay Hurley was contemplating how to ensure the safety of his employees and patrons from COVID-19, following a thankfully pandemic-free Christmas season, when he started looking at his sales records from the season. After some consideration, he realized he could afford to take a deliberate step to avoid the pandemic’s effects, by closing his store to the public for three months.
“The whole reason we closed was due to the COVID Pandemic,” Hurley said. “It was just to keep everybody safe, waiting until the COVID numbers diminished. We had a really good Christmas. Everybody got through it and was safe, and we were in a position where we could close, so we did it!”
According to Hurley, closing during the winter months made sense, as it saved the store from having to buy new merchandise during the town’s slow business season.
“Wintertime business is not great,” Hurley said. “We managed to pay the bills in past winters, but if we were going to be closed, it would be during the winter.”
The store’s closure officially ended on Saturday morning, and many patrons could be seen taking advantage of the store’s reopening that day.
“People were at the door when I was just opening this morning, putting stuff out. We’ve had a lot of calls, and a lot of people have stopped by,” said store employee of five years Debbie Halverson, as she manned the counter Saturday morning.
According to Halverson, Hurley’s COVID Holiday, as it was called, kept the store’s staff on the payroll and surprisingly busy.
“We did some curbside pickup during our COVID Holiday. Some people contacted us, wanting a particular item, and we brought it out to them and did the transactions at their vehicles,” Halverson said. “We were still trying to get behind-the-scenes stuff done and inventories done. We just didn’t have customers, just to get a COVID break after the holidays.”
According to Hurley, his staff was given freedom to determine which tasks to take on while the store remained closed, including cleaning and renovation projects.
“I was surprised how everybody stayed busy, but the people that work here, they like the place. It’s like, ‘I don’t have a job!’ Because they really enjoy the place. That makes it so much fun,” Hurley said, mentioning paint detailing was done on the front of the store, as well as painting being done and shelf dividers being added to the stock room. “The ladies here are amazing. Whatever the situation is, they’re right there and ready for it!”
The store has now returned to it’s pre-closure practices, including requiring masks to be worn and having hand sanitizer stations available to patrons. The Thursday Night Jam Sessions are still being held privately among the jam session musicians, but will likely reopen to the public in July, Hurley said.