These Are the First Things Leading Sneaker Boutiques Will Change When Stores Reopen

As brick-and-mortar begins to reopen throughout the country, retailers have to develop thought out plans to keep consumers and employees safe. This rings especially true for sneaker boutiques.

These trend-right destination doors operate differently than their chain counterparts. There is a cool factor to shopping in leading boutiques, which often serve as hubs for highly-anticipated product launches, as well as exclusive and community-oriented events.

Below, six boutique storeowners outline the immediate changes they will make to their businesses when physical retail reopens.

Tarek Hassan
Owner, Concepts

The hours of operation would be shortened in the beginning, and we’re going to limit the amount of customers in the store. We’re going to have a different sanitizing method of high-touch and contact areas, masks will be required in the stores at all times and disposable masks will be provided for customers who don’t have a mask. Hand sanitizing dispensers will be in the stores, we’ll put plexiglass in front of the cash wrap between our cashier and guests, and we’ll have stickers on the floor by the cash wrap marked six feet apart to remind them of social distancing. All employees will wear gloves at all times and there will be stations throughout the store for social distancing and customer service, and there will be headset communication systems to request things from our stockroom for less contact for the customer service that we provide to serve our customers in a safe way.”

Derek Curry
Owner, Sneaker Politics

“We will follow the safe shopping guidelines, which require employees to wear masks, have customers spaced six feet apart, bars employees from work with a fever or symptoms, maintain occupancy of 25% or less and prohibits loitering or gathering in or around the businesses. I also ordered a hand sanitizer and gloves for all of the stores.”

Ankur Amin
CEO of TGS Holdings Co. (Parent company of Extra Butter, Crusoe & Sons and others)

“As an organization, we have been talking about this for the past few weeks. We all know that things are going to be different when we reopen. The priority will be to ensure the safety of our staff and consumers. For the initial months post-quarantine, we will have to be careful on how many people we allow in the store at one time, so we plan to have a line outside the shop for walk-ups. We’ve already implemented a reservation system on our website and app for when we reopen. We’ll give preferences to people who reserve a time slot to shop. We also plan to disinfect the shop often, the dressing rooms and the bathrooms throughout the day. As masks become more available, we may stock some for our customers in case they don’t have one. Extra Butter has made a reputation for itself by having events and activations at the shop and that will also change as we come back to brick-and-mortar. We have been discussing inventive ways to storytell a product launch through our brick-and-mortar shop without creating an unsafe environment.”

Suraj Kaufman
Owner, Sneaker Room

“Honestly, there is going to be so much uncertainty I think brick-and-mortar retail will be very different and we will be adjusting for some time to get some normalcy. The only change I can say for sure right now is we will be limiting how many people are allowed in the store. I don’t know what in-store retail looks like after all this; I feel like the consumers will be making changes on how they shop.”

James Whitner
Owner and founder, The Whitaker Group (Retail conglomerate including A Ma Maniere and Social Status)

“We will continue to organize community events in person but we will leverage our digital platforms for scale. At A Ma Maniere, we will leverage our Living suites and Eats spaces for intimate boutique sessions. At Social Status, we will leverage our BeSocial community spaces, and at APB we will convert retail for events with a max of 25 people and do multiple sessions. For our retail experiences, we have definitely added sanitizers and will use proper spacing and distance to ensure safety.”

Erik Fagerlind
Co-founder, Sneakersnstuff

“SNS was 90% online, 10% brick-and-mortar before coronavirus. Our stores, bars, restaurants are there to enable us to add on to the culture we feel proud to be a part of and drive forward. The changes we are focusing on are not too much on how to optimize our brick-and-mortar at this point. It is how to stay creative when the playing field has closed, moved, changed. For our brick-and-mortar environments, there are different strategies in different countries. Some countries see masks as the most important thing. Some countries say masks are for healthcare workers only. The changes we see in all places is encouraging social distancing and extra careful hand hygiene. So, that is the biggest adjustment for us when it comes to brick-and-mortar: limit how many people that can be in our stores, offer hand sanitizers and in many countries offer masks. We have already moved all ‘hype’ launches to online to prevent lines or rushing people to one place, and in our corner of the industry that goes a long way.”

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