Downtown retailers have opened their doors and are successfully providing an “in-person” experience again. With that in mind, CFC Properties, including its retail and service tenants, have taken extra precautions to help minimize COVID-19 risks.
Mark Webb, CFC’s, Safety and Security Manager, shared, “A large team effort went into planning protocol measures for all the properties. We’ve done our best to expedite plans to help minimize risks as much as possible. Having the community and staff feel secure is a top priority for us.”
Some of CFC’s protocols included enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices for frequent touchpoint areas, hanging signage to promote Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) good practices, managing building entries and exits to monitor high traffic areas, enhanced personal protection equipment (PPE) requirements for tenants and guests, limiting the number of passengers per elevator, and adhering floor tape markers to provide guidance for proper social distancing. CFC even removed some common area furniture and disconnected most water fountains.
Aside from CFC putting protocols into place for its properties, downtown retailers have done the same. Andrew Davis, a family-owned storefront that offers men’s high-end clothing, reopened its doors with new operating hours from 10am – 6pm Tuesday thru Saturday while being available for appointments on Sunday and Monday. Macey Dale, Andrew Davis, Managing Partner, shared that they are continuing to encourage clients to schedule private appointments. Not only do clients receive one-on-one attention with a private tour of the store, it also helps minimize COVID-19 risks.
Additional COVID-19 protocols Andrew Davis put into place involve three cleaning stations strategically located within the store. Each station provides complimentary PPE items for customers. A new system was started for trying on clothing as well. After a piece of clothing has been worn, it is placed on a rack to be steamed. These items remain off of the retail floor a minimum of 24 hours. The store has also invested in new disposable socks for trying on footwear.
Mirth, a woman’s high-end clothing store residing in Fountain Square, also opened with safety protocols in place by minimizing the number of shoppers, asking customers to wear masks while in the store, and are following other CDC guidelines. Kelly Jennings and Amanda Hyde, Mirth, Co-Owners, said “we love seeing and helping our customers in person and offering a wonderful experience while they are in our store.” However, Kelly did suggest that she believes it may take some time before many shoppers return. “We understand that not everyone is comfortable shopping in person just yet, which is why we are providing the option to schedule a private appointment or the ability to shop directly from our website.”
Goods for Cooks, located in Uptown Plaza off of College Avenue, is also following CDC guidelines. They have extended their safety efforts by installing plexiglass and moving product displays around to make their overall space more open. Samantha Eibling, Goods for Cooks, Co-Owner, said she expects people to come back in the form of waves. She further alluded by saying, “We will likely continue some form of online access, pickups, and deliveries throughout the next year.”
Macey, with Andrew Davis, explained the pandemic’s biggest challenge “…Has been the learning curve and constantly having to make adjustments as we go.” When asked how the pandemic has reshaped the business, “Hands down, the safety protocols. We treat and interact with our clients as if they are our friends and family. Generally, we’d greet them with a handshake or a hug, then offer them a water and pull it out of the fridge for them. But instead, we’re having to keep our distance, exchange pleasantries, and then offer them to help themselves to a water in the fridge,”expressed Macey.
To combat the pandemic effects, Andrew Davis has sought new ways to interact with clients. Aside from testing out a potential website e-commerce option, along with increasing the use of digital channels, including social media, the store sees its new personalized style boxes and Facetime fashion consulting as hot commodities. Clients receive one-on-one time with an Andrew Davis consultant who can assist in picking out items for them or they can choose to take a virtual tour of store items. From there, the items are packed up with videos and photographs showcasing suggestive ways items can be worn. Once the client receives their personalized style box, a consultant follows up to discuss the products.
Goods for Cooks also adopted a similar approach by offering charcuterie and cocktail boxes, including dinner boxes, at different price points. Samantha said, “Once we get an order, we surprise the customer with the contents.” Thus far, the feedback they have been receiving from customers has been positive.
Pandemic challenges inspired Mirth and Goods for Cooks to upgrade their websites with e-commerce capabilities. Both businesses agreed that newsletters, including the social media channels, Instagram and Facebook, were useful tools that allowed them to stay in touch with customers. They also revealed that they found new creative ways to display their products by using video.
As a business who has established brand loyalty and abides by frugal financial practices, Andrew Davis had the means and privilege to take care of their staff while the storefront was closed, and staff had the ability to keep in touch with clients. Macey exclaimed, “We were actually blown away by customers reaching out to us – it really exemplifies what Bloomington is all about. Customers would reach out to ask how we are doing. They would also ask, ‘what can I do to help? Would it be helpful to come in after you open or buy a gift certificate in the meantime?’ Really goes to show you can rely on this community to support local businesses.”
Amanda, with Mirth, shared valuable lessons they have learned during the pandemic – one, just how supportive their customers are, and two, how important it is to be able to adapt and make changes quickly.
Samantha, with Goods for Cooks, declared, “Being nimble and agile is incredibly important to thriving. This is the perfect time to think outside the box and take on reasonable risks with different or new ideas and policies.”
There’s much to be said about the strength of Bloomington’s local community. No matter its challenges, it will persevere and come out stronger than it was before.
From the heart of CFC Properties, we’d like to thank our tenants, staff, and local community for their continued support as we forge forward during these transitional stages. Please stay tuned for additional updates.
About CFC Properties
For over 40 years, CFC Properties has been a leader in the historic restoration, promotion, and revitalization of downtown Bloomington, Indiana. Some of CFC’s renovated buildings on the square that lead to the downtown’s revitalization in the 80s are Graham Plaza, Fountain Square, Uptown Plaza, and the Wicks Building. To learn more, please visit https://www.cfcproperties.com.