Local retail shops adjust to new curbside pick up guidelines

SPOKANE, Wash. – Each passing day is another step towards returning to life before COVID-19.

As businesses slowly open back up, some things aren’t looking quite the same.

In Phase 1 of Washington reopening, retailers can now offer curbside pick up. While it may sound simple, there are new rules that stores have to follow.

“Music has always been my favorite thing,” said David Thoren, Owner of Groove Merchants.

Music is more than just a hobby for Thoren. It’s his livelihood.

“If I’m going to sell something, it’s going to be something that I love, something I believe in,” he said.

Thoren opened up his own record store in Spokane nearly six years ago. A lot has changed since then.

“The experience of hanging out, digging, and listening is part of what I offer here and I can’t really offer that right now,” Thoren said.

He’s not alone. Retail stores across the state are having to adjust to a new way of operating.

“It’s a pretty big blow not to be able to do business as usual,” said Nate Corning, Owner of Mark’s Guitar Shop.

Last Friday, Governor Jay Inslee announced retail stores could reopen, but with a few restrictions.

As of right now, they are only allowed to offer curbside pick up.

“It’s more of, ‘Here you go! Don’t touch me!,” said Thoren.

Under the new guidelines, employees need to be screened at the start of every shift for COVID symptoms, a cleaning schedule needs to be put into place, and the employee working should be wearing a face mask any time they interact with a customer.

While it’s a step in the right direction, many small business owners are still struggling.

“Decreased day to day business has certainly occurred,” said Corning.

As a result, some businesses have had to order less inventory and lay off staff.

“It hasn’t been perfect but we’ve been able to get by,” Corning said.

“I really miss hanging out with people. I used to take it for granted,” said Thoren.

It may not be what they signed up for, but they’re hopeful things will go back to normal sooner rather than later.

More information on Phase 1 guidelines for curbside retail can be found HERE.