Detroit-area stores reopen in a new era with new precautions

May 26, 2020, 10:23 AM by  Alan Stamm

"Open" signs are on stores that haven't allowed walk-in customers for over two months, and that do so now with safety restrictions.

Shopping at these "non-essential" businesses is a bit like a professional service office visit, with an appointment needed. That's part of state rules in effect today for retailers who were shut in mid-March as a health precaution.

Some provided curb pickups, deliveries and mail orders, and now can welcome foot traffic too. That applies to auto dealers and stores of all types -- but not yet bars and restaurants in most of Michigan, and not gyms, barbers, salons, massage parlors or tattoo studios statewide.


Masks are required for staff and customers, as mandatory signs reinforce, and shoppers are limited to four per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space.

Merchants must "create at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations, which for purposes of this order are people over 60, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease," a state directive says. Workers must be trained on infection control and protective equipment.

Medical, dental and veterinary offices can reopen Friday. Office workers remain under a stay-home order through June 12, unless their jobs can't be done remotely.

Self-pick farms and orchards also are back, and customers can pick asparagus starting next Monday at Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Armada, The Detroit News reports.

That will be followed by strawberries, which are still three or four weeks out because of the cool spring. Customers will drive out to fields and be shown a designated area that keeps them away from other pickers. They will be given gloves, which they'll be required to wear.

John King Books on West Lafayette Boulevard in downtown Detroit is among sites that reopened this morning for browsers. "We will accept only three people or fewer per appointment," it posts. "We are requesting only regular customers return for the time being." The treasure trove of used books provides a $2 mask for anyone bare-faced.

A Pages Bookshop order pickup, which typically takes place at the door without entry. (Photo: Facebook)

In contrast, the door stays locked at Pages Bookshop on Grand River Avenue in Detroit's Grandmont-Rosedale area. Owner Susan Murphy is sticking indefinitely with cubside pickups and mail orders, as she explains on social media:

We have decided not to open our store for shopping yet. Here’s why.

For the past nine weeks, all our energy has gone into adapting. We've concentrated on adding functions to our website, new ways to connect virtually through social media and live events, adjusting our future author event plans, as well as focusing on getting online orders to you as quickly and as safely as possible. The demand has been high (thankfully), but the cost on me and the staff has been too.

We are a small store with a small team, yet these tasks are just as big as if we were a big store with a big team, and we need to feel ready, not rushed, and capable of delivering the experience you've all come to count on us for.

Not only that, but the store is a mess! Well not quite, but it has shifted from a showroom to a processing and shipping center, and still needs to be thoroughly cleaned and reconfigured to allow for social distancing to keep you and our booksellers safe. I expect figuring out how to do this will take a few weeks, and I'm working with our team to create a written plan to move forward, including their readiness to return to work, which I will also not rush.

The current scheduling system used to book pickup appointments is working well and will be used for scheduling appointments to shop when the store is ready. This will happen; we simply need more time.

Until then, we appreciate your continued patience and willingness to adapt to new ways of supporting indie booksellers. We’re excited about the new ideas that have come out of this (virtual events! online-only gift cards!) and feel confident we’ll emerge as a better bookstore and better book enthusiasts as a result.

We will continue to keep you updated and hope you’re all staying healthy and home with a great read.

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