The Next Phase - Reopening
“Stores plan to reopen soon!” “Many shop owners make preparations for opening day” “Where will YOU shop first once restrictions are lifted?”
So many articles and news stories are being written right now about businesses and shops reopening here at the end of May with the lifting of government restrictions related to COVID-19. In a lot of ways, it is heartening. People will be able to start to get back to work to make money. Normalcy is coming back. Routines can start again.
But for us here at Dirty South Pottery, we aren’t quite there yet.
I think the most important part of the reopening process is to adapt the in-store shopping experience to make it safe for everyone – the shopper, the employees, the next shopper. For us and our little store, we are having trouble putting that puzzle together.
Our storefront is small, maybe 800 square ft or so. But we have lined it with shelving that is full of pottery on display. Pottery that can easily be exposed to a cough or a sneeze. Pottery that is part of the stock we use to fulfil online orders. And this small store is not just a workplace that we come to during store hours – it is an open-air attachment to our pottery studio that we spend countless hours in each week. Even more importantly, Carvel and I live upstairs in an apartment above the studio/store. We have to walk through the studio to get to our cars. Our dogs play in the storefront and studio when we work late at night. We are so intertwined into the store that sometimes the boundaries of where our home ends and the store begins get blurred.
What I am saying is that there is a lot at stake for us here. We have to protect the customers who are actively in our store, as well as the ones who come after them, the customers who are shopping online, and ourselves, our family and our pets. Oh, and we are still operating as an on-site team of two. Cleaning after every customer is a challenge when we sell items that people like to touch. On top of that, we are trying to produce more pottery during store hours, which makes stopping to wipe down all surfaces after every customer extremely time consuming.
We don’t have a plan ready that we feel covers all of these moving parts, and we aren’t willing to risk anybody’s health just so we can open when everyone else is. We made the decision to close before it was mandated because we didn’t think we could protect everyone, and we will reopen after many stores do for the same reasons.
So no, we will not be opening on May 20th when the Commonwealth says we can. We don’t have an exact date for you on when we will be open.
But what I can tell you is that it will be a slow re-opening, and that we will have new shopping protocols in place when we do open. Masks will be required before entry is allowed. We will more than likely start with only have people in-store one day a week for a while.
We feel like our current options of shipping and curbside pickup are working well to keep everyone safe and properly stocked with pottery for now. Stick with us into the month of June to hear about when and how we will be opening up our store. Until then, everything will be operating as we have been for the past few months!
Photo Credit - Space, Place and Southern Grace Photo