A small table with a bottle of hand sanitizer and a box of face masks sits at the entrance to Paper Skyscraper in Charlotte. Bright orange signs read, “Please use hand sanitizer,” and “Please take a mask.”
The Dilworth store, which sells greeting cards, books and gifts, opened Monday after Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order expired. The business is deemed essential under the statewide order since it offers books and other “educational materials."
“We’re working through it on a daily basis -- an hourly basis,” shop owner Bill Goodwin said of reopening.
The store permits 15 customers at a time and has temporarily stopped taking cash to try to limit the number of things employees and customers touch. Hand sanitizer bottles are stationed among the displays and masking tape by the cash register indicates proper social distance for customers waiting in line.
Down the street, women’s clothing store Vestique is prepared to open Saturday under the first part of Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phase reopening plan for the state, which Cooper said will begin Friday evening.
The shop will close fitting rooms and reduce its hours, said manager Jacie Harris. It will also offer “private shopping parties” where small groups can shop for a set period of time. She said Vestique’s managers are nervous and unsure of what to expect.
“A lot of Lysol. A lot of wiping everything down after every single person comes in,” Harris said.
“Will we make everyone shop a certain direction or something like that? We haven’t really discussed that yet. We’re just kind of playing it by ear and seeing how this weekend goes.”
Not all Charlotte businesses are eager to reopen.
Scott Wishart, owner of Plaza Midwood’s Lunchbox Records, said he likely won’t feel comfortable allowing customers in his shop for at least another month.
“The way the store is ... the whole thing is everyone has to touch everything,” Wishart said, adding he still hasn’t received gloves he ordered about one month ago.
“You can’t really find all the supplies you need to do everything the way you need to do it," he said. "It’s still really hard to find masks and gloves and sanitizer.”
Wishart estimated Lunchbox Records’ business has fallen by 70-80% because of the coronavirus, though the shop has offered curbside pickup and started an online store.
He said he is hesitant to reopen because many of the shop’s employees continue to stay home with their school-aged children. Wishart also said he would be nervous to reopen for customers on a weekend because Saturday and Sunday were Lunchbox Records’ busiest days.
When he does eventually reopen, Wishart said he plans to pick a slower business day, limit the number of people allowed into the store and require customers to wear gloves and masks.
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