Retail Workers Share the Rules Every Customer Should Follow Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

From wearing a mask to using credit cards, retail workers from across the country share guidance that could make shopping easier and safer.

By Mike Vulpo Jul 18, 2020 11:00 AMTags
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It's time to give retail workers credit where credit is due. 

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect businesses across the country, many employees continue to adjust to changing guidelines, unpredictable shoppers and the "new normal" of face coverings and social distancing. 

Before you make your next essential shopping trip, there are a few small steps you can take that could make a big difference at your favorite store. 

"Wear masks to protect both the customer and the vendor and to reduce the spread," small business owner Deana Hawley shared with E! News in between selling health and beauty items at The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, an indoor indie market in Sarasota, Florida. "For many, their small business is their livelihood. Small businesses also contribute to the uniqueness and attractiveness of a neighborhood, a community and the area in general."

And for those who are staying far away from malls or other indoor shopping destinations, there are more than a few ways to support companies online such as posting positive reviews or tagging brands you wear on social media. 

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"Engage in the brand culture itself, either online (via social interaction) or emanating the brand's ideals in your community," Balance Athletica CEO Taylor Dilk shared with E! News. "We are so grateful to have supporters that engage with each other and the brand on a daily basis." 

See what more retail workers across the country have to say as they work hard to deliver items you love safely. 

Taylor Dilk

+ Balance Athletica in Denver, Colorado

Be Patient With Shipping

If your purchase is taking a little longer to arrive at your doorstep, chances are there's a very good reason. "A challenge we have faced is being able to keep our staff safe and following the CDC guidelines, while getting all orders to our customers. We have limited the amount of staff in our warehouse tremendously, which means that our operating capacity has decreased on some level," Taylor shared with E! News. "We simply can't get as many orders out as we typically do, due to fewer hands on deck. Our customer's packages can take up to five days to be received." Once you receive a pair of their leggings, joggers or shorts, it will be well worth the (short) wait. 

Miguel Carranza

+ Smart & Final in West Hollywood, Calif.

Be Patient With Popular Items

"There are some products that continue to struggle with being in stock due to the recent demand; in particular our disinfectant and glove sections," Miguel shared with E! News. "When we are out of stock, we are asked, 'When will you be back in stock?' Unfortunately, we simply don't know how much product each store can get from our suppliers each day, although we are receiving deliveries nightly and we're doing everything we can to fill those shelves. We hope to one day be back to normal!"

Amber Kirk-Ford

+ Supermarket in the U.K. 

Bring Less People to Grocery Stores

"Food shopping is not a substitute for a day out. You do not need to bring your other half or your entire family (single parents of young and/or disabled children excepted). We're putting ourselves at risk so you can carry out your ESSENTIAL food shopping, not treat our place of work like a leisure park," Amber wrote in her open letter. "So please be kind, keep your distance and stay home where possible. Behind the name badge is a person with worries, hidden health conditions and loved ones we are trying to protect—while also protecting you."

Kevin & Yvette Ambrose

+ The Nest Lido in Newport Beach, Calif.

Be Kind to Employees

When face coverings became mandatory in the state of California, Kevin and his employees had to politely ask shoppers to put on masks. While many were more than supportive, Kevin has a reminder to consumers. "You've heard this saying forever: We're all in this together. No matter what it is, it's a simple thing to ask. We're trying to protect our employees the best that we can," he shared. "We want to be free again but we're not at that point yet."

Brooke Fenn

+ AR Workshop in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. 

Support Your Favorite Retailers Online

When the Coronavirus forced retail stores to temporarily shut down in California, Brooke decided to turn her in-person hands-on DIY workshop and retail boutique to an at-home business by creating an online retail store. Fortunately, she had amazing results from old and new customers alike. "The outpour and support from our customers and community was incredible," she told E! News. "In the months we were closed, we had over 500 DIY-to-go kits ordered, numerous retail purchases and hundreds of new customer referrals. Four weeks into the closure, I was able to bring back several employees who rely on this income to survive. It was an incredible thing to experience and as a believe, it was a testament to God's faithfulness."

Lorin Platto

+ Luck in Contra Costa County, Calif. 

Support Local Businesses 

Despite so much uncertainly during a pandemic, Lorin says support from local residents has a profound impact on both workers and business owners. "We have the most amazing, caring, loyal customers and they just want to know that we are going to survive this and that we'll remain in business in Lafayette. The entire community has rallied around the store and our customers have kept us going both from a business standpoint, but also from an emotional standpoint," she explained. "Before COVID-19, I wasn't sure how the community felt about Luck. Did they like the store? I now know they do and they want Luck to stay in business. I am more confident than ever that we will be here to see this all through."

Daniela Hernandez

+ Mimosa Jewelry in Miami, Florida

Wear Gloves If Asked 

A "new normal" rule implemented at Mimosa is having both the sales associate and customer wear gloves while shopping. "Infection control is our main concern, " Daniela shared with E! News. "We dispose of the gloves after each use." And while many retail stores aren't allowing customers to try on clothes, Mimosa is a bit more flexible with jewelry. 

"Although some jewelry stores aren't allowing try-ons right now, the jewelry at Mimosa Boutique is non-tarnishable so we have the luxury to sanitize it with a light antimicrobial/antiseptic soap and water bath," Daniela explained. "Our staff makes sure all pieces are sanitized after a customer tries them on so it's safe for other customers."

Kim Livengood

+ The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime in Sarasota, Florida

Keep Stores Clean

The indoor market in Sarasota is filled with more than 25 local vendors and artisans. According to Kim, who serves as the owner, everyone (including the shoppers) are asked to keep things extra clean. "We have provided hand sanitizer to all our vendors. We also have touchless hand sanitizing stations at the front and middle of our market," she explained. "Throughout the day. we are cleaning/sanitizing and each week we have a professional cleaning service come in to do a deep clean. Shopping local is the key to a community's success." 

Linda Sanchez

+ Gray Fox Boutique in Florida

Consider Using a Credit Card Instead of Cash

Many retail workers are hoping customers avoid paying with cash in hopes of spreading less germs. "Wear mask that actually cover your mouth AND nose, stand at least 6 feet apart and stop paying for things with cash," Linda shared on Instagram after a shift at her boutique. "It's not that hard but it makes the biggest difference. Also don't be a d--k to employees because things are taking longer than normal. We are putting in so much more work to make things safe for people. We don't need to be yelled at on top of everything."

Nigel Blanchard

+ Tervis in North Venice, Florida

Support Products Made in the USA

When visiting a Tervis store or purchasing their products across the country, consumers can have confidence that the items are designed and manufactured locally in Florida. "The big guys are always going to find a way to be there. They have deep pockets, broad resources and in most cases, an infrastructure created to withstand crisis," Nigel shared with E! News. "This is not the case for most locally owned, small businesses. The economic impact generated by a few months of social distancing, occupancy measures and/or complete shutdown is too much for most to overcome. These businesses need the support of their community now more than ever." 

Terran Duhon

+ Home Goods in San Antonio, Texas 

Wear a Mask

"These are your friendly neighborhood retail workers reminding you if we can wear a mask for our entire 8 hour shifts, you can wear one for 30 minutes while you shop," Terran shared on Twitter after his shift. "Thank you!"

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