After being closed for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, retail stores across the province have been given the green light to reopen for curbside pickup next week.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Wednesday, but noted that only stores with a street entrance could qualify. And while Toronto shoppers eagerly anticipate the reopening of their favourite stores, and some small return to normalcy, safety concerns are top of mind.
Contactless payment options, temporary street parking, physical distancing in lineups and other safety protocols will be put into place to continue to help flatten the curve.
But for most retailers, getting things back up and running will be no easy feat. Brick and mortar stores have been closed since the province-wide shutdown of all non-essential businesses on Mar. 24. The significant drop in revenue during that time, paired with a lack of rent relief and heightened concerns over public safety has resulted in staffing shortages for many. Inventories have been pushed online and Toronto’s main streets have quieted. But despite these obstacles, store owners are pushing forward and getting creative.
We spoke with some of Toronto’s independent retailers to find out how they plan to roll out curbside pickup starting Monday, May 11.
Black Goat Cashmere
In Yorkville, Black Goat Cashmere will be taking orders over the phone for customers in the GTA. Men and women can stop by the Bloor Street location for their Mongolian-made cashmere sweaters, dresses, and pants between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
“We’ll discuss a time that works best for the customer,” says Dana Walde, the company’s operations manager. “Our store is glass, so what we’re doing is, once we see the customer approaching, we’ll put the shopping bags in front of the door and then we’ll see them retrieve it, so there is social distancing and safety in mind.”
The store will also be following strict public health guidelines.
“We’ll be using gloves of course, to pack everything up and then put it outside, just so you know, there is no contamination there,” Walde adds.
Customers can see the entire inventory online before placing their order on the phone. And while parking on Toronto’s Mink Mile has proven more than difficult in the past, Walde says a few minutes shouldn’t be a problem. For residents outside of the GTA, the online store remains active, with delivery options available.
131 Bloor St. W., 416-967-4628
Davisville’s Rewind Couture is doing things differently. The luxury consignment shop offers a curated collection of gently-used designer pieces, from labels like Christian Dior, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent. Since each individual item is so unique, the online inventory is ever-changing. So owner Dawn Librach is promoting each piece on the store’s Instagram feed. Shoppers are able to inquire by direct message, pay via e-transfer and pick it up at the store.
“They call us when they’re outside and we’ll put the item directly in their trunk, so they don’t have to get out of their car or stand in line or anything,” says Librach. “We’ll make sure it’s in their car within five minutes of arrival.”
This Monday, the store will be offering curbside pickup from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. But the operating hours change day-to-day, with updates posted onto the store’s Instagram. Librach says staff will don gloves and masks when overseeing each transaction both inside and outside of the store.
577 Mount Pleasant Rd., 647-350-8550
LoversLand, a contemporary bridal boutique on Ossington, will be open for curbside pickup every day between 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Right now, owners Yvonne Reidy and Danielle Gulic are doing it all themselves. In addition to fulfilling orders for the casual apparel and accessories they carry, the two are also hosting virtual bridal appointments.
“We’re still able to show them our offerings, talk about designers, talk about their needs and what their vision is,” says Gulic. “The appointment is 30 minutes and our goal is to create a try-on list, so when things are up and running again, we’ll be able to maximize their time once they are here physically.”
Sadly, Gulic says many brides have had to postpone their wedding because of the pandemic. But some are finding other ways to carry on, albeit not entirely as planned.
“Some are still planning a little elopement in July. Curbside pickup is an option for them. We’ve also been doing virtual bridal try-ons, so they’ll try their dress on at home. It’s really important to us that we walk through the whole experience with each bride,” she adds.
215 Ossington Ave., 416-551-3321
Meanwhile in Rosedale, the mother-daughter duo behind Clementine’s is doing whatever they can to reconnect with their clients, by way of virtual appointments, online orders or over the phone. Creative director Christina McDowell and her daughter Kelly offer a carefully curated collection of womenswear and home decor, with a personalized touch.
“We miss our clients, we miss our shop, we miss each other,” says McDowell. “I mean Kelly and I are mother and daughter and we’re not together. When we see each other, it really has to be at a distance. We miss all of that. So now it’s about going forward and making it work as best we can for everyone, really.”
The corner shop is preparing to roll out curbside pickup on Gibson Avenue, just off of Yonge Street, between 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
McDowell says they will be taking all the health and safety measures required by Public Health, including wearing masks, gloves, and disinfecting surfaces. Clementine’s will also be producing reusable masks very shortly, that McDowell says will reflect the store’s fashion sensibilities and will have a charitable component as well.
1054 Yonge St., 416-966-2662
On St. Clair West, owner Stephanie Marer runs Parpar Boutique with her brother. The shop carries casual womenswear from brands all over the world, and Marer says they’ll be offering curbside pickup from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. starting Monday.
“Customers can easily pull up to the front of the store, present their order numbers, collect their package and they’re all set while maintaining social distancing,” she says.
Inside the store, she and her brother are wearing gloves, masks and applying plenty of hand sanitizer. And in addition to curbside pickup, the store is also taking online orders and making deliveries.
“We’re so grateful to have been up and running online during this time. We’ve really had so much traction through our web store throughout the closure that I can’t imagine what it’s been like for retailers without an online presence,” says Marer.
649 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-657-3333
Helene Clarkson on Mount Pleasant Rd. offers a selection of designs by Clarkson herself which are “wrinkle free, machine washable and effortlessly elegant.” Clarkson is opening up her shop with new safety precautions, “we are doing everything we can to keep you, our employees and community safe.”
In keeping with new health and safety measures, there will be reduced customers at the store. Only two customers may be inside the store at the same time and are asked to wear a mask upon entering. This ensures social distancing measures are taking place. There are masks available for customers who require one.
In addition to regular sanitization of surfaces throughout the store, the fitting rooms will be sanitized after each use and there will be limited room capacity in order to ensure the safety of all customers. Contactless payment will also implemented.
Clarkson also offers virtual styling appointments for those who can’t make it to the store.
565 Mount Pleasant Rd., 416-519-2223 or 416-520-2813.
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