Restarting is nothing new for the ladies of Loveland boutique
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (May 21, 2020)— Alley Boutique was first to reopen in June of 2018 – a little over a year after the devastating 2017 Memorial Day fire in Loveland. They did it again in 2020 as they joined other Loveland retail shops reopening last week on Tuesday, May 12.
Debby Walker, with mask on, out front of Alley Boutique the first Saturday since reopening (Chuck Gibson)
Debby Walker, Alley Boutique ownership partner remembers opening up in their current location after fire burned them out of their old spot where Bishop’s Quarter now stands. Who would have thought less than two years later they would be going through another rewind/restart? Here we are. She remained upbeat about all that has transpired through the COVID-19 shutdown and now restarting.
“I think it’s been great,” said Walker describing the first few days of reopening to customers. “We opened up Tuesday (May 12). We limit the amount of people that can come in. We ask that they wear masks and use hand sanitizer before they come in.”
There is a stylish sidewalk café-type table set up just outside the entrance with masks, sanitizer and a notice of the guidelines for customers.
Stylish red table has sanitizer, masks, and procedure sign for customers (Chuck Gibson)
They put signs out to let people know they’re open. Of course, they were not completely out of business during the shutdown. They took orders by phone. Debby just put it outside on the table where customers could pick it up safely. She said they’re keeping that option open for anybody who may still be uncomfortable coming in to the store.
“We had a couple of live Facebook sales while we were closed,” Walker said. “People commented on what they wanted and then called in with their payment. That worked out too.”
In some cases, if somebody needed to see something – especially for gifts – they were able to bring items to the door for the customer to look at. As Walker said, it all worked out for them, but they’re happy to be open again.
Everything is different. They are sanitizing everything. She said they even researched how the coronavirus affects fabrics because of the variety of apparel they offer.
“You can stick it out in the sunshine,’ said Walker, “and we steam it. There’s not a lot about fabric. They said, if anything, stick it out in the sunshine.’
Alley Boutique in Loveland, Ohio (Chuck Gibson)
Moving items out into the sun poses little problem for the ladies at Alley Boutique. Walker pointed out most of their display racks are actually on wheels and easily moved. They are trying to make it safe and easy for customers too. They are only allowing three to four customers inside at a time due to their limited space and social distancing guidelines. Since reopening, she says people haven’t really been coming down until noon. Tuesday – Thursday they opened at noon, but that first Friday and Saturday, they opened at 11 a.m.
Two customers visited around noon on Saturday, May 16, – one is visible in background (Chuck Gibson)
“We’ll see, it’s early still,” Walker said. “It may change when more of the summer comes.”
What does it mean to be able to open the doors again and see customers?
“Oh, it’s quite comforting,” she said. “That’s why we were a store in the first place. We didn’t open up as an online store. We want to see people. It’s been great. Everybody’s been happy just to get out again; to get away from their house.”
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