Local business owners say results are mixed since Santa Clara County Public Health entered Phase 2 of the county’s COVID-19 reopening plan. On May 22, local retail businesses were allowed to reopen with curbside pickup only. Retailers are required to maintain social distancing and wear masks at all times.
Dennis Cole, the owner of The Train Shop on Pruneridge Ave. in Santa Clara, says the reopening does little to help his business.
“The takeout business part of it and the mail order business part of it, that’s only 10 percent. We’re down 90 percent,” said Cole. “It’s kind of crazy. You can go to Home Depot or Walmart or Costco and stand in line with 50 other people but you can’t come into a train shop which sells hobbies for helping people to stay at home.”
Cole says he and his wife have been keeping up with the county regulations. He knows what he needs to do to keep customers safe and he’s frustrated that he’s not being allowed to do it.
“We’ve downloaded the weekly county reports. We got all the flyers and brochures and the safe distancing and wear the mask and how many square feet. We can let the people in. We’ve done the homework and everything,” said Cole. “We have a thing in place on the counter; we’re going to stay six feet away. The whole nine yards. I think most of our customers, being older, understand all that.”
Alicia Burgoon, the owner of Anchor Electronics on Walsh Ave. in Santa Clara, says while business has picked up, not all of the customers want to comply with the county’s regulations.
“It’s a mixed bag. A lot of the guys don’t want to abide by the rules. We make a lot of people upset, irritated. They want to be able to come in and we say, ‘No.’” said Burgoon.
Burgoon says she’s worried that when the reopening continues, not everyone will abide by the mask and social distancing rules.
“How much of that policing [are we] going to need to do? I don’t know, like threaten to call 9-1-1?” asked Burgoon.
For Leigh Odum, owner of Leigh’s Favorite Books on Murphy Ave. in Downtown Sunnyvale, curbside pickup is a bit of a relief.
“We started with deliveries for all of our orders [during shelter in place], which was really difficult and left me working until two, three in the morning,” said Odum. “Being able to offer curbside is definitely a lot more work than it was in the past but it’s a lot easier than delivering all of our orders.”
Odum says while the community has been incredible in supporting her business, fully reopening would make a difference.
“It would be a huge help to have customers in the store. We can’t sell a large percentage of our stock because we just don’t have images for everything on our website and that takes a lot of time,” said Odum. “Also, it’s just not the same shopping experience. It is really hard not having customers in the store.”