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Boutiques, pet stores adapt to social distancing

Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 18:55:26-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — With the emergency order to shut down all bars and restaurants, many have moved to carryout and delivery options, but they aren't the only industries adapting. Several small businesses are changing their practices to follow social distancing and the desire for customers to stay home or away from people while shopping.

"We’re letting limited people in and we’re sanitizing before and after every customer," said Sassanova Boutique owner Angela Tandy.

Tandy said they've made several changed to keep customers and staff healthy and happy, even making it possible to shop without physically coming in.

"We are taking steps to delivery personally to customers who are around the area. We’ve done several home deliveries. We’re offering curbside pick-up. We’ve been communicating with customers via Facetime," said Tandy.

She's seen a declien in foot traffic at all three of her Maryland stores (Greenspring Station, Harbor East and Bethesda) since the weekend, but that's not the same story for natural pet shop Howl in Hampden. They can barely even find time to restock their shelves.

"We had an unprecedented business in a short period of time," said general manager Larry Watts.

Over the weekend, they sold out of almost everything, and with the rush they realized they needed to limit the crowd to keep the store safe for staff and customers.

They continued to see lots of customers Tuesday as they got deliveries for people's pet needs.

"They need food. They need their products. Life needs to go on and we are just trying to do the best to minimize and still service the customers and the animals," said Watts.

Watts calls it a new safe normal.

"We only let one person in at a time so that limits contact between customers and we wipe down with bleach the pin pads. We get the product for them," said Watts.

He knows they won't make as much money as usual but he's optimistic they will be able to stay open with the new protocol.

Tandy isn't worried about her bottom line either because she's made changes to staffing (following social distance needs) and stopped shipments. She just worries about how long this will go on for and hopes they will all make it through together.

"I think all we can do right now is support one another. I’ve been making an effort to order take-out from some of my favorite restaurants that have closed," said Tandy. "Customer experience is of the utmost importance to us and we are going to try to deliver that as much as we can even in these crazy times."