CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Retail shops across Virginia got the green light to open to 50% capacity in Phase One of Governor Northam’s “Reopen Virginia” plan. However, many shops and boutiques in Charlottesville are taking things at a slower pace and keeping their doors closed off to the public.
Both Circa and Darling Boutique are still keeping consumers engaged through social media orders and allowing them to come in for private shopping appointments.
“It’s hard to know the right thing to do,” Circa Owner Robin Slaats said.
“We weren’t at a place that we felt like it was safe to open up at 50% capacity in our store," Darling Owner Linnea White said. "We have a big space which means it could have been a good amount of people.”
Both shops turned to private shopping appointments as the best solution.
“It’s a way for us to kind of ease into this allow customers access to the store again in a safe way, in a controlled environment,” White said.
“I think by going slowly in little chunks that we’re comfortable with we can sort of see what works, what doesn’t work, and also just watch how everyone’s health fluctuates in this area over the next month or two,” Slaats added.
All private shoppers must wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, and wear gloves if they are going to touch products. After the customers leave, staff sanitizes the entire store and prepares for the next appointment.
“Things that are handled, we set aside for 24 hours and if it’s clothing, we’re steaming it,” White said.
The overall response to the new shopping experience has been great.
“I think people are appreciative of that structure and seeing that we as a business are taking it seriously," White said. "But I think they’re also excited to be able to come into the shop and actually look around again.”
Both are looking forward to the day that they can safely reopen their doors and welcome loyal customers back with open arms.
“We know a lot of them very well and we’ve known for years and years and watch their kids grow up, so we haven’t had that face to face relationship,” Slaats said.
“There’s a bustle and hustle that like this energy that keeps us moving and going and I really miss that energy in the store so I’m excited for it to be filled again with customers,” White said.
Circa will reopen to the public with limited hours starting on May 26. Darling plans to keep its current system going through the end of the month.