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With the state's shelter-in-place order expiring at the beginning of the month, retail businesses in Forsyth County have been able to open to the public after more than a month of closure, but no one is quite sure what the future holds.
At Halcyon, the popular mixed-use development in south Forsyth, some stores have begun reopening to the public. David Silver, general manager of Halcyon, said in an email that many tenants stayed open in March and April but had to make adjustments due to social distancing restrictions, such as hosting a Virtual Ladies Night Out event, an online version of one of their most popular events.
“Even as restrictions are beginning to be lifted, several restaurants are continuing to offer curbside pickup and delivery options for customers,” he said. “Our retailers, in particular, continued to engage shoppers through online and over-the-phone sales, in addition to hosting virtual try-on sessions on their social media channels to showcase the latest inventory and styles.”
Silver said most businesses had reopened as of Saturday, May 1 “with modified hours, remaining mindful of social distancing and sanitizing requirements.”
"As guests begin returning to Halcyon, we are taking various precautionary measures,” he said, “including limiting seating in our Market Hall, adding well-spaced outdoor seating, directing traffic flow in public areas, keeping doors open, increasing cleaning frequency and providing access to additional hand sanitizing stations.”
Willow Jane, a boutique at Halcyon that specializes in staying up on the latest trends, closed on Sunday, March 22 and reopened on May 1.
Owner Peony Lin said the first weekend back had been busy, but crowds have tapered off some during the week.
“I feel like that might have just been because the shelter-in-place expired,” Lin said. “I opened [Thursday] for a little bit and it wasn't nearly the same, kind of quiet. There were still some people out on the green but not like this last weekend.”
Lin said when the store closed, they had to make a jump to online sales, which they hadn't previously done.
“We didn’t really have an online website at the time,” Lin said, “so I just kind of threw something together seeing that we wouldn't be reopening for a while, and that did okay, but honestly, it was not that great.”
To keep both customers and staff healthy, Lin said Willow Jane was keeping their doors open as much as the weather allowed, sanitizing cash registers and door handles, offering free hand sanitizer, sanitizing clothes after they are tried on and making sure employees wear masks.
“We're not requiring that the customers wear face masks -- that's really up to them -- but the employees, we have them on,” Lin said. “We're also asking no more than 10 people at a time in the store.”
Lin said the company has not received a small business loan but was going through the process.
Lin's husband, John, said with lower revenues and bills to be paid, there is a lot of uncertainty for small businesses.
“For a lot of small businesses, after COVID-19 it's going to be a tremendous struggle to get back to any kind of positive revenue,” he said. “It's really struggling, and these landlords have to recognize that and start working with us or it's going to be a huge, huge issue for all the small businesses.”