SLO Co. retailers adapt to Stage 2 of state reopening while other industries wait their turn

Posted at 6:31 PM, May 11, 2020

You can now order clothes in the same way you order food -- by delivery or curbside pick-up.

Some retail business owners said they have been doing this from day one, others just started last week, but almost all say this business model isn't sustainable long-term.

“Most businesses are in survival mode,” said Maryalice Hamilton, owner of Blackwater.

Survival mode for retail stores like Blackwater in downtown San Luis Obispo means curbside pick-up and deliveries done by just two people.

“My hats have changed quite a bit. Not only am I a janitor, curbside delivery girl, but basically we are just doing what we can do to make money for the business, to keep the business open,” Hamilton said.

Online sales have been her saving grace as she expands her customer base nationwide.

However, it’s not the same story for the owner of SLO Swim.

“My percentage of [online sale] returns is 80%,” said Shelley Filip, SLO Swim owner. “I sell women's swimwear and it's such a specialty item that people have to touch it and feel it and try it on."

So she took matters into her own hands and is booking personal shopping appointments, aware of the risks.

“You come in and shop, we try to do social distancing, I clean up after they are finished. Typically, it's only two or three appointments a day,” Filip said.

Moondoggies is taking the risk, too, allowing customers inside.

Owners are torn between following the rules or going out of business and many are still confused between state and county expectations.

“Many business owners are asking, ‘what is taboo and what is okay?’ Is there a fine if you, like, break the law and open the door and somebody walks in?" Hamilton said.

In the housing world, some realtors are back in action, but the state says open houses and paper flyers are not allowed.

“It's only two people and an agent at a time to show a property. We make sure we stay six feet apart,” said Paul Swack, a real estate agent based in Shell Beach. “We make sure people have the gloves, booties, masks, sanitizers."

For office-based spaces, daily employee temperature checks, desk configurations, and mask requirements could be the new norm later on in Stage 2.

For other sectors, like childcare, the state recommends taking kids’ temperatures every day, keeping children in the same small groups and increasing outdoor activities.

For more guidelines on the state's phased reopening plan, click here.

According to the state Resilience Roadmap, local counties that meet the California Department of Public Health’s criteria and follow reopening guidelines may move through Stage 2 and reopen more businesses before the state as a whole.