Green Country Retail Stores Adjust Strategies, Add Safety Protocols

Friday, May 15th 2020, 10:05 pm
By: Chinh Doan

TULSA, Okla. - The U.S. Department of Commerce’s latest report showed retail sales dropped a record 16.4 percent in April. Sales dropped in every category except for online shopping.

Friday, J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The pandemic is impacting retail businesses in Green Country, too.

As stores are reopening, they are also trying to catch up and make changes on how to do business.

Experts said how much money each business is losing during the downtime depends on its market and how it is adjusting to customers' needs.

Regardless, all businesses said they are spending extra time and money to keep their staff and customers safe.

Friday is the first day for Black Sheep Boutique near 51st and Sheridan to open to walk-in customers.

Owner Sarah Lawrence told News On 6 extra safety steps add up, but she thinks local businesses have an advantage over big box stores.

"Because we do have some really loyal local customers, and we've built relationships with them, and we've built relationships with other local businesses,” said Lawrence. “So, we've all kind of banded together to support each other."

Lawrence said her store is allowing only 10 shoppers at a time, and everyone is required to wear masks. The boutique will provide a disposable one if needed.

Customers like Emily Potts don't mind.

"It's the socially responsible thing to do,” said Potts. “I mean, we're just wearing it a little bit while shopping."

As for clothes that customers have returned or touched in the fitting rooms, Lawrence said staff use hot steam on the items and let them air dry before putting them back on racks.

"A whole lot more work but worth it," said Lawrence.

At DSW near 81st and Sheridan, store manager Rose McElwee told News On 6 traffic is picking up after the store has been open for three weeks.

"Some people want the masks, the safety equipment, some people don't, but they've been doing a pretty good job of following the arrows and helping us maintain social distancing," McElwee explained.

McElwee also said there are sneeze guards at the registers, and items that customers try on are disinfected, then go into the stock room to be quarantined for a few days.

The DSW employee of 22 years said she feels confident about the new safety protocols and the future of the company.

"We've been here for a really long time and we're in a good position, and our leaders are giving us good information that makes us feel like we are stable," said McElwee.

Businesses advise for customers to check for any updates to each store's return and exchange policy.