This Monday, May 18, San Francisco retail businesses with street-facing storefronts will be allowed to reopen for pick-up, as long as there is no intervening spike in COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations.
"Allowing retail to operate storefront pick-up is a great step for our small businesses, which have been struggling since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayor London Breed said in a statement earlier today. "Businesses that will be allowed to open next week won’t be able to operate like they used to, but this hopefully offers a measure of support."
The SF Department of Public Health also released further guidelines yesterday, stating that no more than 10 store employees may be on-site at any time. With six-foot social distancing mandated, small stores may have to limit themselves to even fewer employees than that.
Richard Weld, the owner of toy store Tantrum, says that's not a concern — it's just him managing orders at the moment. He's temporarily closed his Cole Valley store, and will operate pick-up out of Tantrum's Inner Richmond location (248 Clement St.)
"We’ve been monitoring the situation very carefully," Weld said. The store has spent the last month and a half stocking up and mailing out deliveries, and starting Monday, it will allow customers to pick-up pre-ordered goods.
After someone orders online, "we'll try to have it ready [for pick-up] within the hour," he said.
Dog Eared Books (900 Valencia St.) just started delivery this week, and manager Ryan Smith said customers have already been asking about pick-up as well.
A friend, who is a carpenter, is currently building a custom-made sneezeguard to protect employees when customers walk up to get their books. The city's regulations also require customers to stay six feet apart and wear some sort of face covering while waiting in line outside the store.
"I don’t anticipate that to be a problem," Weld said, adding that while there may be a learning curve, he expects his customers to be reasonable.
Smith hopes that pick-up will save Dog Eared's staff time. "Packing stuff [for delivery] is much more labor-intensive" compared to selling books before the shelter-in-place, he said.
While Breed said in a press conference on Wednesday that allowing pick-up "is going to be critical to think about economic recovery," both Weld and Smith expect delivery and pick-up orders to remain pretty much even.
Despite the demise of kids' birthday parties under the shelter-in-place, Weld says a lot of his customers are still being considerate and purchasing presents to drop off at a friend's house.
With "a lot of people waiting until the very last minute to buy presents," pick-up should add some ease to their lives. And it will brighten his day as well.
"I'm excited to see people again," he said.
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