MAINE, USA — After being closed for more than two months, stores on Exchange Street in Portland are starting to reopen.
Lisa-Marie's Made in Maine is one of them.
"We support over 400 different Maine artisans and craftsmen between our two locations," said store manager Marie Stewart Harmon.
Harmon is thrilled they're back to business, even if it's not business as usual.
"We all have our masks, all of our stores here, there is signage all over the place, encouraging people to use hand sanitizer, maintain social distance."
Most people have been cooperative and supportive. Others have objected to following the state's safety protocols.
"There are some people who don't want to wear a mask or use hand sanitizer."
According to three large retail trade groups in Maine, there are other people who are harassing store employees about being asked to follow state guidelines set up to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"It's just all of these changes at once. We understand it's difficult," said Curtis Picard, the President and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine.
The Retail Association of Maine along with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association have launched a statewide public awareness campaign Thursday, June 25 called Let's Be Kind, which encourages people to practice kindness and respect while observing safety protocols.
"It's still going to be a ways before we're back to normal. The important thing is to comply with regulation and guidelines to make sure we can get back to that day soon," said Picard.
Stewart Harmon thinks the campaign is a great idea.
"I think being kind is one of the most important messages we can be conveying right now."
It's an unprecedented time that hasn't been easy for anyone.
"It's a weird time and everyone is dealing with their own level of anxiety. We're all experiencing this in our own way and it's different for everyone. All just takes being a little more patient with one another these days and spreading a little bit of kindness," said Stewart Harmon.
As the saying goes: A little kindness goes a long way.
The Let's Be Kind campaign kicked off Thursday with a social media campaign along with posters in businesses and starting in July, public service announcements will begin airing on television stations across the state.