New state guidelines have business owners preparing for more customers
BATON ROUGE – Businesses are getting ready to welcome more customers. The governor loosened some restrictions starting Friday, allowing restaurants to open up patios and retail shops to sell curbside. Business owners are already starting to prepare.
“It will take a minute here and there to move everything around, but we’re going to adapt as quick as we can,” Zippy’s owner Neal Hendrick said.
Hendrick is planning to open his usually popular patio back up on Friday, though he says he doesn’t know what that will look like quite yet.
“We’re currently waiting on the written version of the regulations to make sure we keep all of our customers and staff safe,” Hendrick said. "We don't know whether [new guidelines surround] percentage of seating, seating a certain distance apart or how many people can be at a table. We're looking for more clarification on that. We have several different scenarios we can do, and then we'll go from there."
One includes possibly expanding the patio into the parking lot.
“I think we're going to be very busy this weekend with people ready to get out of the house,” Hendrick said.
That's the hope up the street on Perkins too at Wanderlust by Abby.
“Anything that is a step closer to becoming a little bit normal, I am so excited about,” store owner Abby Bullock said.
The governor is also allowing mall-based stores to do curbside pickup. That's something Bullock, who sells a variety of merchandise from clothing to jewelry and candles, has already been experimenting with.
“I had a lady come in and she was just tearing up, because she was just so happy to get out of the house and have some ‘me time’ and a little bit of normalcy to go into a store,” Bullock said.
Bullock, in order to keep revenue coming in, is personally delivering online orders to customers the day after they’re ordered.
But not all businesses will be able to open as quickly.
“Unfortunately, it's just not a flip of a switch,” said Patrick Wilkerson, who owns Bengals & Bandits.
With two store locations Wilkerson says having people order merchandise online and then pick them up at the stores isn't as easy.
“Because we have more inventory and we have more sales and we have multiple locations... It's just a bigger problem that we're working to plan out for,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson says they’ll roll out curbside pickup as soon as they can.
“We are definitely looking at the next six months on how shopping is going to change,” he said. “Curbside pickup I think is going to stay for a while. I think smaller stores like us will have to implement that to really stay relevant with the bigger box stores out there.”
The new business guidelines will be effective Friday through May 15.