As Lowcountry stores reopen slowly, our community is hoping to safely patronize the small businesses that make up the fabric of our town. COVID-19 continues to impact Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, and Beaufort, and we are covering the special ways our community has been responding in a series of articles.
So far, we have featured the nonprofit organizations dedicated to our residents, and the fantastic ways our local restaurants are helping those in need. In today’s feature, we showcase the way retail stores have coped with forced closures, and how they’re safely re-opening their doors to customers.
Safety First: Lowcountry Stores Reopening
When Governor Henry McMaster lifted the closure on certain non-essential businesses last week, his order came with strict guidelines to ensure the safety of the public and retail workers.
Stores must limit occupancy to five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20% of occupancy limits, whichever is lower. This is specifically to reduce contact and attempt to keep cross-contamination low.
Customers must maintain 6 feet of social distancing unless they live in the same household. The customers are being asked to enforce this themselves, but many stores are taping on the floor and hanging signage to help people determine safe distances.
The business must implement all reasonable steps to comply with sanitization guidelines provided by the CDC, DHEC, and other state or federal public health officials.
The businesses that are allowed to reopen include furniture stores, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry and leather stores, department stores, sporting goods stores, book and music stores, flea markets, and florists.
Shopping In Public During a Pandemic
Everyone is familiar with shopping “at a distance” in huge chains like Target or Walmart. But how do you maintain your safety in the many small businesses we love, like boutiques and book stores?
With Bluffton holding the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Beaufort county, opening up the quaint shops in Old Town, for example, still has many business owners uneasy.
“Honestly I feel nervous,” says Jillian Atkinson, owner of children’s boutique Moonlit Lullaby. The team at Gigi’s Boutique is reopened with modified hours and prefers to take appointments. Both stores are asking customers to please wear masks and gloves.
Shopping helps our stores stay in business, but your safety is the ultimate priority! By urging customers to take extra precautions and limiting the number of people in their shops, these small business owners are putting your health over their profits.
You can return the favor by remembering to consider their health as well. For example, the owner of Moonlit Lullaby has children and her mother works in the store. The owners of Gigi’s are sisters who also have children. This serves to remind us that most small businesses are family-owned and operated. Please wear your masks when going inside, because whatever you bring to the store, they bring home.
Spending your hard-earned money in our local shops supports local families directly and it is greatly appreciated! Governor McMaster and President Trump remind all consumers to stay home if you feel unwell or have any signs of illness, especially COVID-19 symptoms.
How to Shop Safely and Support Small Business
If you do not need to physically visit a store, you can certainly shop small by going online! Perhaps the only small silver lining to forced retail closure was the uptick in local businesses opening online shops.
Many of our beloved boutiques did not previously offer a simple online store option on their website, but now they do. In fact, most of them launched these new e-commerce stores with big discounts for people who shop online.
In addition to the stores previously mentioned, here is a list of local businesses who have NEW online shops up and running for your shopping pleasure:
...and so many more!
Whether you’re an avid shopper or someone inclined to help keep our local small businesses from shuttering, there are many ways to support locals during this time.
Shop carefully: Wear a mask any time you enter a building. This significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19 and you can make them easily from handkerchiefs, scarves, or even an old t-shirt.
Make an appointment: Most small businesses are holding modified hours and prefer you to call ahead for an appointment. Not only can they provide you with elevated customer service but it ensures your own safety.
Shop online: Nearly all of your favorite local shops built online stores when they were forced to close their doors. You can buy all your favorites online, and enjoy free shipping or curbside pickup with most companies!
How do you feel about Lowcountry stores reopening? Will you go out to shop, or shop online
Share your opinion in the comments!