A year after the pandemic shuttered downtowns, causing ripples of worry about possible lasting impacts on the Island economy, business is bouncing back. In the run up to the Fourth of July holiday this week, ferries were sold out, down-Island main streets were teeming with summer visitors, and the mood among Vineyard business owners was mostly upbeat.

“I haven’t seen it this busy in June — and I was born and raised here — in a long time,” said Mia Rebello, the owner of In the Bluff, as shoppers ducked in and out of her clothing store on a hot, sunny day. 

“June feels more like July, and I feel like July is going to feel more like August,” said Jason Giordano, manager of the family-owned Giordano’s Restaurant at the foot of Circuit avenue. “And God knows what August is going to be like.”

Rochelle Gallo of Rochelle's Boutique in Edgartown. — Ray Ewing

Sally Turner, an employee at The Beach House in Vineyard Haven had her own theory. “I think because people were locked up for so long and got used to doing things online . . . when we opened people wanted brick and mortar, and to do this,” she said, gesturing at the in-person conversation under way. “And to touch things. We’re very grateful,” she said.

But while businesses across the Island are excited about a return to normalcy, many also are experiencing lingering pandemic staffing problems as they brace for an expected crush of visitors this year. For establishments that rely heavily on seasonal workers, owners say the challenges are formidable. 

“A lot of college kids can’t come down for the summer and work because they have no place to go, they have no place to stay,” said Donna Kruszewski, part owner and manager of Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium. 

Mr. Giordano said his restaurant usually hires 15 J-1 visa workers as part of a staff of 75 summer employees. But with that avenue mostly blocked this summer, at Giordano’s the namesakes themselves are filling the gaps. “Luckily, I’ve got a pretty large family, so we’re all working seven days a week,” Mr. Giordano said.

Some smaller, year-round businesses are facing fewer staffing issues. “We all live here year-round. A lot of people are really hurting for staff, restaurants especially,” said Lucinda Wittenberg, an employee at Past and Presents in Edgartown.

Tigerhawk Sandwiches are new on Circuit avenue. — Mark Alan Lovewell

For other businesses, scarce inven

tory caused by interruptions in the global supply chain is emerging as the newest problem. Phil Hughes, owner of Wheel Happy Bicycle Shop in Edgartown, said he has been facing supply shortages since bicycle sales went through the roof last year.

“By the time last spring came, America bought every bike available from every company, including the ones I buy from,” Mr. Hughes said. “And they’re having trouble catching up since America still wants to be outside. And we’re working hard to get as many new bikes and parts as we can get in here. So it’s a very challenging job.”

Liz Hynes, the owner of Salte, a boutique gift store next door to Wheel Happy, has been facing a similar obstacles.

Jeannie Brown at Kin. — Ray Ewing

“Our supply chain was definitely affected,” she said. “We work with so many small makers, whose creative spaces were affected by capacity or actually being shut down. So there’s definitely been a delay, but we found some workarounds and had to just confidently buy bigger knowing that things would be delayed if we have to reorder,” she said. 

Businesses that have opened in the past year are looking forward to a new kind of summer this year. At Ethos in Edgartown, a one-year anniversary party is planned for this weekend com

plete with Spanish wines and live music. Store owner Claudia Tolay said she is grateful for the increase in customers in recent weeks. She said she has seen shoppers from around the world this summer, including Sweden, France and Argentina. 

Elaine Barse at the Green Room shoe store. — Jeanna Shepard

Olivia Knight, an employee at the three-week-old Lanai Beach Club in Vineyard Haven, said the shop is eagerly anticipating the start of First Fridays, when Main street businesses open their doors from 4 to 11 p.m. for an evening of art, music, shopping and food.

“We haven’t participated in anything like that yet, so we are excited to sell stuff on the street,” she said.

“We have absolutely no complaints,” said Jane Chandler, the owner of The Beach House. “The people have been great, and I think grateful to be out and about.”

Ms. Rebello agreed. 

“I mean people are just happy to be out and shopping. There’s been no negative,” she said. “The only negative is that I’m tired at the end of the day but it’s a good tired.”