Retailers yesterday said they were relieved, happy and thankful to finally be allowed to operate and welcome customers into their storefronts.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced last week in the House of Assembly that beginning June 2, all businesses deemed non-essential would be allowed to open their storefronts to members of the public for the first time since he mandated their closure as a part of COVID-19 emergency orders.
Marketing Manager for Rubins Kelly Smith described the feeling she felt opening the clothing and shoe retail store for the first time in more than two months.
“It was a wonderful feeling, finally. You know, we’ve been hanging on as long as we can. We’ve been in business 91 years and we really started to get nervous that we may not make it to see 92 years. We were really relieved to finally open our doors and have our customers come in, because we pride ourselves on customer service and treat our customers and our staff like family and friends,” she said in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday.
During the first day of the store’s reopening, Smith said the primary focus was to ensure proper protocols were in place, adding that customers adhered to the store’s new shopping policies of five customers at a time fairly easily.
“We’re doing our part by wearing masks, disinfecting and wiping the counters down, disinfecting any clothing that’s been tried on and putting it in the back for 24 hours,” she said.
“I have to say, the customers have really been doing their part. They’re wearing their [masks], everyone has really got the whole procedure down. Our customers have been really happy to finally see us again and get the service they’ve been longing for.”
Smith said the company’s priority in this new COVID-19 era is to accommodate customers as best as it can.
“Moving forward, it’s going to definitely be altered, of course, for the business, because we’re doing what we can to tighten up our budget, not over-order inventory, be really cautious in what we’re purchasing and how we’re doing it and also how we’re delivering to customers.”
For John’s Shoe Store General Manager John Cathopoulis, although the company has been offering curbside service since last month, when the country entered phase two of the economic reopening plan, nothing compares to opening the doors to customers.
“It was nice to have a little taste of what was normal, you know, being able to actual serve a customer in the store and go through the process traditionally, as opposed to having people outside in the hot sun. We have a store policy for the maximum number of people in the store, so we still have a line of people at times, but everyone seems to be enjoying it. No one has complained about having to stand and wait. I think them having to deal with the banks or the check cashing places during this time, people sort of got used to that,” he said.
“I’m very thankful that we are able to, once again, allow customers in the store.”
Looking forward to the rest of the year, Cathopoulis said the company just hopes to keep above water.
“It’s uncharted waters. We’re not going to compare this to years gone by, it’s very unfair to do that, especially since your biggest obstacle is that the long amount of time that we’ve been closed is the long amount of time that people haven’t had a chance to make money for savings to spend toward the end of the year,” he said.
“I guess for the rest of this year, we’re just hoping that we can keep above water, that we can just not lose money. We want to do as much as we can that was normal and keep people along for the [ride]. We keep saying we want to go back to normal, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”