San Francisco and San Mateo businesses are rushing to prepare for reopening phase two, which begins on Monday.
For some retail business owners like Sara Pollak, who owns San Francisco maternity store Mom’s the Word, the welcome start can’t come soon enough. Her family-run business has taken a sharp hit since the pandemic began. Online sales account for only 10% of business because maternity retail, Pollak explained, usually involves a more tactile experience.
Monday’s start to curbside pickup will help Pollak reconnect with her customers.
“I’m super excited because it’s at least a step for us as a business, we can continue to move forward, to be there in a slightly different way for our customers,” she said. “We can try to consult through the window.”
But curbside pickup may be a temporary fix to the retail industry that not everyone is ready for.
Ron Benitez, owner of San Francisco apparel store Asmbly Hall, said last week’s announcement just wasn’t enough time for him to get things ready to meet the county’s guidelines.
“A couple things that we are sensitive about was the rush to get everybody prepared,” Benitez said. “We had heard about the opening maybe last Wednesday or Thursday, and we were given guidance, but the guidance was not put together by people from the retail industry.”
Just like many businesses, Asembly Hall has had to make big cuts during the pandemic – including closing the doors to his flagship location, also in San Francisco. Curbside pickup is what Benitez called a band-aid.
Benitez hopes business will pick up as he expects to be fully operational curbside by the end of the week.
San Francisco city leaders said they are closely watching the spread of COVID-19 and more restrictions will loosen once certain health benchmarks are met.
San Mateo County is also starting phase two on Monday.
Sylvia Wang, owner at Fluff and Puff Dog Wash in San Mateo, is ready to open for the first time in two months. So are her customers.
“When I opened my computer I saw we had 100 emails with people wanting grooming appointments,” Wang said.
As San Mateo County moves into phase two of lifting restrictions, bookstores and florists will be able to do curbside business. Small clothing retailers and furniture stores can do the same.
Even some offices will be allowed to reopen, but only if employees cannot work from home.
But even with the changes, it will not be business as usual. At Fluff and Puff, both groomers and clients will be required to wear masks and only one customer will be allowed inside at a time.
But William, who lives in San Mateo, said it’s still not enough.
“I’m done with all these restrictions,” he said.