Safely Reopening: How Two Retailers are Keeping Staff & Customers Safe

Tim Dugan, MacPherson’s Account Manager

While there’s no crystal ball to show us what the next few months will bring the retail world, the current “New Normal” is taking shape. Let’s take a look at retailers in Toronto and Michigan who had been doing curbside and delivery. In recent weeks both retailers have opened their retail locations to allow customers in store to shop.

Opening in Phases: Aboveground in Toronto, ON

Aboveground Art Supplies in Toronto reopened two of their three locations on May 22nd. To keep customers and employees safe and healthy, they have added acrylic barriers at checkout, lots of signage about safety and social distancing throughout the store and arrows to direct customers as they shop with “one-way” aisles. They have also created a PPE station with gloves, masks and hand-sanitizer for customers on a no charge basis, a thoughtful touch for everyone’s safety. Aboveground also has an online shopping and catalog division that has been fully operational during the pandemic.

Header image from Aboveground’s email to customers

Owner Fred Gold was glad to share their reopening customer email campaign and photos of what a couple of their stores look like as they welcome back shoppers. In the email announcing their reopening, they outline the precautions they are taking to ensure safety in a clear, detailed way:

  • A maximum of 5 shoppers will be permitted in the store at any time. 
  • Shoppers must wear masks while in store with us. For those that have not brought one, one will be provided for you. If you choose not to wear one, we can provide a personal shopping experience, but entrance to the store will not be permitted. 
  • All shoppers without masks will be provided with masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves for a comfortable and safe shopping experience.  
  • Shoppers are encouraged to shop quickly, and alone if possible. 
  • We ask all shoppers to closely follow our directional signage to minimize encounters and manage customer flow, and heed signage prompts.  
  • All shoppers must maintain a safe 6ft./2M. distance from other patrons and from staff. 
  • We are committed to meeting or exceeding all public health recommendations for a safe shopping experience for our customers and staff – we will update these protocols as needed, and they are subject to change with best practices.

Learning from Fris Downtown: Curbside is Here to Stay

Fris Downtown in Holland, Michigan has also reopened recently to welcome customers back for in-store shopping. Owner Andrew Fris was glad to share:

“As of May 28th, we were allowed to do appointments with no more than 10 people in the store at a time. We are making it so, if a customer is in the downtown area, they can also check in to see if they can stop in. We are still offering curbside pickup and local delivery for those who still don’t feel comfortable coming in. When this is over, we will most likely still offer curbside as it’s an easy way for customers to quickly grab something. We put up an acrylic guard to give customers a sense of safety as well as keep our employees as safe as possible. It’s a nice way to display things as well. While we aren’t requiring customers to wear masks we are encouraging them, as our employees will be wearing masks and it is their choice as to wear gloves as studies have shown washing your hands is more effective. We are wiping down common areas and door handles often and having employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after transactions when they have a minute.”

This is what the “New Normal” Looks like for a couple of stores. It’s all about safety and making customers and staff Feel Safe and Be Safe. We would love to share your store’s reopening plan and photos. Please share your stories and photos with us at! Special thanks to Artem Belaikin, whose imagery is featured in the tile image.

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