Turns out local clothing, beauty, and accessories shops don't have a one-size-fits-all approach to Phase 2 of the reopening process.
After two months of being closed per the city's first stay-at-home order, certain "non-essential" store owners are happy to open up. Some are just not ready. And others, frankly, don't see the point in opening strictly for curbside pickup. Mixed feelings about the retail guidelines aside, everyone agrees that today's move is but a baby step. (Still, we'll take it.)
Not gonna lie: Last Wednesday when I saw online that Mayor Breed announced San Francisco retail businesses—including shops beyond the previously cited florists, game and hobby shops, and record and bookstores—would soon be given the OK to reopen, I got a head rush. Immediately, visions of a camo-masked me making the rounds at my favorite boutiques on Fillmore (Nest), Hayes (Azalea), and Valencia (Voyager) flashed in my brain. Then I kept reading.
Wait, what exactly does "open for curbside pickup and delivery" mean vis-à-vis shopping? Is the mayor saying I can't actually go into any stores but I have to procure those much-needed tie-dye sweatshirts, candles and lounge pants the same way I've been getting my pizza, fried chicken, and bento-boxes…by ordering online for takeout only?
Yep, that's precisely what she's saying.
More detailed guidelines, spelling out what local stores have to do in order to open, were released from The Office of the Mayor on Thursday, May 14th. "Allowing retail to operate storefront pickup is a great step for our small businesses, which have been struggling since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that will be allowed to open next week won't be able to operate like they used to, but this hopefully offers a measure of support," Breed says.
Guidelines at a Glance
The first thing to know: The new retail guidelines apply only to businesses whose storefronts connect to the street (sorry, Westfield SF Centre). According to Breed, this includes about 95 percent of all retailers in the city.
Additionally, previous rules to stay home except for essential needs and approved activities continue. Translation: These guidelines are N-O-T a license to shop or browse with abandon. Social distancing rules and wearing masks/face coverings while queuing up or inside businesses are also required, for both customers and store employees.
Plus, in order to reopen, stores must meet these conditions:
- Customers may not enter the store: only storefront, curbside, or outside pickup are allowed.
- No more than 10 employees may be on site at once to handle curbside pickup.
- Stores must have clear access to a sidewalk, street, parking lot, or alley to handle curbside pickup.
Indeed, Monday's curbside reopening can't come soon enough for the city's small businesses, according to Vas Kiniris, executive director of the Fillmore Merchants Association: "It's a Band-Aid, but the point is we have to slowly start opening the economy."
"With COVID-19, there's a new level of uncertainty that's affecting all our merchants and they're rethinking their business models. On Fillmore alone, the 150-year-old Frye Boots has decided to close. Also, mom-and-pop business Asmbly Hall is closing its Fillmore location," he adds.
What say you, SF shops?
As soon as we learned about (and processed) the reopening news, we reached out to several beloved SF shop owners for their take. Of course, our main question was regarding curbside pickup: yay or nay? We also checked in to see how some businesses have been holding up since the coronavirus came to town and, ya know, upended everything.
With answers as varied as the stuff that lines their shelves, we thought it best to let our friends speak for themselves. Scroll thought our slideshow to hear from: Jessica Lee, Colleen Mauer, Emily Holt, Linda Fahey, Isobel Schofield, Kiya Babzani, Basil Racuk, Pauline Montupet, and Debra Dobras.
Dawn Dobras (CEO), Credo Beauty
First reaction to Mayor Breed's announcement that retail could open for curbside pickup?
"Credo Beauty supports Mayor Breed's announcement and having tested curbside delivery in our Chicago store last week, we reworked all of our operations with the health of our employees and customers as top priority."
Do you plan to open this week?
"We plan to open with no-contact pickup for the first time on Fillmore on Thursday, May 21. We'll continue curbside pickup Thursday through Sunday each week."
Have you been offering any special deals to spur shopping during this time?
"We offer free virtual one-on-one consultations right now, via Credo Live, for all our customers. Our customers have loved taking advantage of the personalized approach—asking any and all of their questions about clean beauty from the comfort of their home."
Have you been preparing for reopening?
"We have been working on our reopening process since the day we closed our stores. We have modeled a slow and very conservative reopening process in three phases: curbside as states allow, followed by limited capacity and then the last phase back to 'normal.' However, we anticipate that looking very different. The safety of our team and our customers is our paramount focus right now, and we have all been working double time to ensure we are following CDC guidance on safety and hygiene and taking it slowly.
Have you changed up your merch mix to make it more "stay at home" friendly?
"We are retailers of clean, safe and good-for-you skincare and makeup—so that category is important to customers now more than ever. So, we have seen the shopping patterns shift to different categories, such as an increase in masking and body care, and a dip in fragrance and suncare. Clean beauty is a category that many new customers are discovering right now, as their concerns around health and wellness have increased. It's a great time to take the time to 'clean swap' some of your conventional products for cleaner, less toxic versions."
Please support these and all your favorite local stores. Buying gift cards for future services, products, and even just checking in to say hi can do a world of good in these precarious times. #7x7shopslocal