'It'll be different:' Saukville groomer eager to reopen under loosened restrictions; clients 'itching to get in'

SAUKVILLE -- Dog groomers, upholsterers, lawnmower repair shops and other nonessential businesses that able to offer contactless services can reopen starting Wednesday, April 29, the latest loosening of Wisconsin's stay-at-home order designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday, April 27.

Evers' stay-at-home order runs until May 26 and has kept most nonessential businesses closed, leading to skyrocketing unemployment. Evers has been pressured by Republicans and the state chamber of commerce to move more quickly to allow businesses to reopen. Under the latest order, starting Wednesday outdoor recreational businesses renting out boats, kayaks and other recreational vehicles, can also reopen. So too can self-service or automatic car washes. They all must operate free from contact with customers.

Lori Gulling

Staff must be limited to one person per room or confined space at a time. Payment must be made online or by phone, and drop-offs and pickups must be scheduled ahead of time. Customers are not allowed inside business premises.

Saukville groomer Lori Gulling's phone started ringing off the hook Monday.

"Yeah, everybody let me know," said Gulling.

Bonsai Pet Spa, closed when Gov. Evers "Safer at Home" order took effect on March 25, can reopen under Monday's executive order that Evers described as a “turn of the dial” to reopen the state, starting with businesses that require limited interaction between customers and employees.

Bonsai Pet Spa

Andrew Hronek

"It will be different, dealing with going to get people outside, and payments, and that sort of thing, but people are really only in here one-on-one most of the time anyway," said Gulling.

At the Milwaukee Brat House, they've been offering delivery and curbside pickup -- generating new business to try to make up for the empty bar.

"It's definitely been a business transition for us," said Andrew Hronek, owner. "It's been a positive experience, for all things considered."

Hronek said staying open amid the pandemic has meant running lean with employees and expenses, and making the most of signage and social media.

"Making sure that people know that you are there and available," said Hronek.

Milwaukee Brat House

Gulling said Monday she's confident her clients know she's making a comeback.

"I've got a list of 150 people or so to call, and a whole nother list of people itching to get in," said Gulling.

Gulling and Hronek said they can't make up for the revenue lost during the pandemic, but they believe they can survive.