Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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School uniform stores taking hit with new online learning model, increase in returns

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BATON ROUGE- A Baton Rouge uniform store is feeling the effects of remote learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

School Time Uniforms in Baton Rouge is one of many uniform stores adjusting during these uncertain times. What typically is the business's busiest time of year has been filled with skeptical shoppers and plenty of returns.

This back to school season comes with challenges beyond altered schedules.

"We can only let so many people in the store. All of our employees have to wear a mask and customers have to wear a mask," store owner Jeff DaQuanno said.

Rather than shoppers coming in and out of the store like normal, customers are sitting in their cars and waiting their turn.

"It's a minor inconvenience, but it's definitely another precaution to keep people safe," shopper Nicholas Johnson said.

Fall was expected to be the store's busiest season until the East Baton Rouge Parish School System announced the school year would begin online.

"Normally this time of year we would have been busier earlier, but I think there was some hesitation in not knowing how the schools were going to open up," DaQuanno said.

There's plenty of uncertainty among shoppers since the coronavirus forced businesses to temporarily shut down in March.

"I think all of us have mixed emotions. You're nervous, this is kind of an unprecedented time," shopper Dana Madafarri said.

Some private schools in the area are expected to start the year with in-person instruction.

"Majority of the schools are offering a virtual option, so now if they don't need uniforms they'll be in street clothes. That will eliminate the need for uniforms. So, this crisis that we're going through right now you're just trying to do the best you can," DaQuanno said.

School Time Uniforms has five locations across the state, but at each location, there are extra safety measures put in place. Masks must be worn inside of the store, hand sanitizer is placed in an area easy for customers to access, and entry into the store is staggered.

The store will remain open with these safety protocols in place throughout Phase 2 of the statewide reopening plan.


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