SAULT STE. MARIE -- It was an exciting day for staff and customers as some COVID-19 restrictions loosen in Ontario.

For customers and staff at Heritage Home Hardware in Sault Ste. Marie, Saturday May 9 couldn’t come soon enough.

It was the first day customers were allowed back in the store to browse the isles and do their own shopping.

"It just feels like things are moving forward. It feels like a move in the right direction that things are getting back to normal." said Lindsey McCaig, a shopper at the hardware store.

For the past month this hardware store was closed to in person shopping.

Customers could still purchase goods, they just had to phone in their order or do it online. 

"Well it was actually very surreal. I’ve been in retail my entire life and the whole point of retail is trying to get customers into your store." Said Chris Belihartz, owner of Heritage Home Hardware in Sault Ste. Marie.

"To suddenly have to operate with not having any customers in the store was very different."

The staff is particularly excited to have customers back in the store.

Thankful to have been working during the pandemic, they say the last month wasn’t a walk in the park but more of a sprint through the park. 

"The phone rang from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. which was closing and all we did was constantly run. Picking orders, so doing a couple of laps of the store gets tiring after a while.” said Ashleigh Williamson. 

With physical distancing measures still in place, only six customers are allowed in the hardware store at the same time.

There is no timeline for when more customers will be allowed in at once.