Local retailers implement procedures to keep customers safe

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Schuler Books implemented "drop tables," where customers can leave books they have held to be cleaned before they are reshelved. Courtesy Schuler Books

The CDC set guidelines for stores and customers to follow, and local retailers have been doing their part in adhering to those suggestions, and implementing their own, as the state reopens.

Some retailers, like Schuler Books, 2660 28th St. SE, have high-touch areas that need to be addressed. While browsing for a book to purchase, customers often will pick up a book only to find it isn’t the one they want.

Alana Haley, marketing coordinator for Schuler Books, said the store’s solution to that problem was to have “drop tables” placed throughout the store where customers can leave items that were handled but not purchased. Employees then sanitize the books with UV wands before reshelving them.

Schuler Books also implemented a store greeter.

“We have a greeter at the door to explain what to expect as people shop with us for the first time after shut down,” Haley said.

She added Schuler Books is committed to having different low-contact options available, like curbside pickup or ship to home, as long as they are needed.

These options originally were implemented to allow the company to continue serving its customers while alleviating the high sales loss caused by the closure of the physical store.

Due to reduced staff and a higher online sales volume during the pandemic, Schuler Books struggled to keep up with the demand. Haley said the staff had to figure out how to shift to large scale web order fulfillment, how to make virtual shopping happen and how to implement curbside pickup efficiently.

Though safety precautions limited the number of staff and sales volume, “Keeping our staff and customers safe (is) always our primary concern,” Haley said.

The Grassy Knoll opened June 1, initially by appointment, but now a limited number of customers are allowed in each of the store’s two locations. Courtesy The Grassy Knoll

Janet Tombre, owner and managing director of The Grassy Knoll, a CBD boutique that has a Woodland Mall location and a location in Eastown, explained her store’s locations have been following the rules set by the CDC but have discontinued the appointment system that was originally enacted June 1.

“It’s kind of difficult to have appointments in the large mall space, but I think just limiting the number of people within the store is a better fit for us,” Tombre said, noting walk-in traffic within the Woodland Mall has been “super slow” for the first week of reopening.

The pandemic impacted The Grassy Knoll’s sales, as well, which Tombre estimated “have probably dropped by half.” She added there was an increase in online sales but a loss in walk-in sales with not having either physical store open.

Woodland Mall, as a whole, set protocols following the CDC’s guidelines. Forever 21, for example, marked off areas around checkout for social distancing, staff are required to wear masks and have been trained to follow CDC guidelines, and the store is cleaned regularly.

Urban Outfitters has its in-store safety precautions listed on its corporate website and has set up more safety measures by setting up plexiglass guards at register counters, along with following the other guidelines set up by the CDC.

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