INDIANAPOLIS — Shopping may look different as the states continue to move forward during the procession of reopening.
Many retailers were deemed non-essential businesses when Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a stay-at-home order on March 23. In a little over a month, however, the state was able to come up with a five-stage plan that would slowly bring Indiana out of restrictions.
More businesses — except in Marion, Lake and Cass counties — were allowed to reopen this week.
Simply Chic, a modern fashion resale shop spread across central Indiana, was one of the retailers that were ready to open.
"Being closed for almost two months is really really hard," Andy Burtner, the owner five central Indiana Simply Chic stores, said. Burtner owns one in Indianapolis, Plainfield, Fishers, Noblesville and Lafayette.
Burtner closed all of his stores about a week before Governor Holcomb set forth the stay-at-home restrictions across the state. Burtner said he saw different counties starting to make travel restrictions and knew he had to keep his employees safe.
"When Governor Holcomb allowed retail to reopen on May 4, we wanted to be open," Burtner said.
Retail stores, including jewelry, apparel, furniture and liquor stores, and shopping malls, are allowed to open at 50% capacity. Manufacturing companies, industrial operations, public libraries, and half of the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles are also able to open.
With reopening, every store and corporation is bound to have different precautions or procedures in protecting everyone's health. And the comfort and health of the Simply Chic staff is Burtner's first priority in making new rules.
"Even the people that are coming back (to work) are not comfortable. So, we're going to ease into it," Burtner said.
Most of Burtner's employees came back; some, however, can't or had to make other decisions based on their finances or health.
"Life has changed. There are people that are older and don't want to come out in this. There are people that have living situations that they are in that make them not comfortable coming back to work," Burtner said. "And there are people that found other jobs while they were off."
Thrift and consignment stores have specific regulations that other retailers may not have to consider, such as how to handle resale.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines warn that COVID-19 can live on surfaces made from various materials, including clothing, anywhere from a matter of hours to days.
"We are not buying items from other people right now," Burtner said. "Until we find a comforting level with that buying process, and how to get our customers maybe to quarantine their items before they bring them in, or launder them before bringing them in? I don't know."
Simply Chic's dressing rooms will also remain closed at this time.
"Part of the thing about dressing rooms is we don't know how long this virus lives on clothes. So, for the time being, we'll just close dressing rooms and let people return items within 48 hours," Burtner said.
Burtner has also reduced his store hours.
"The reduced hours are mainly a staffing thing and getting the employees ... comfortable. Because we all have to be comfortable with this," Burtner said.
Customers are also asked to use hand sanitizer when they come in and out of the store, to wear a mask, expect capacity limits, and to remain six feet apart from other shoppers. Some places are even asking that you look, but don't touch.
As for when Simply Chic will start buying again, Burtner is following the Governor's five-stage process. He predicts stage three, but, he's not firm on that as it all comes back to what developments may arise with the coronavirus.
"Every day there is a new problem and a new learning curve on something else," Burtner said.
One thing for sure is that both retailers and consumers are going to need to adapt to a new way of shopping, as comfortability will be the top priority for everyone moving forward.
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