What to expect at newly reopened Montreal retailers
Plexiglass, quarantine for clothes and no handshakes, says one sports store eager to see clients again
When Montreal shoppers head to newly reopened retail stores, they should be ready to keep their distance from each other and touch as few items as possible.
Some of the ways retail stores have adapted will look familiar: stickers on the floor indicating where to stand in line, plexiglass windows and a reduced number of people allowed inside at the same time.
But for stores where customers are used to touching items or trying them on, there are a whole new set of challenges to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Darren Berry, the director of the Sports Experts location in the Dix30 shopping centre in Brossard, said the changes they've made feels like they're opening a whole new store.
"We want to try to limit touching the product," said Berry.
Employees will help customers take items from clothing racks and out of the shoe boxes, instead of searching for their size themselves.
And if they choose not to buy what they try on, the item will be put into quarantine for 48 hours before it is returned to the shelf.
The number of cash registers in use has been reduced to three, and customers will be asked to step back as cashiers scan their items and remove security devices.
WATCH | How Sports Experts in Brossard has adapted its store for the pandemic
With reduced hours for the next two weeks, Berry said they're bringing back 80 per cent of their staff for now.
In addition to the plexiglass, he said cashiers are also being offered masks and face shields.
Berry says he's ensuring the store is going above and beyond the guidelines put out by the province's workplace health and safety board, which include reducing the number of people inside, disinfecting surfaces at least once a shift and informing shoppers showing symptoms that they must shop online or have someone come on their behalf.
The need to stay two metres away from customers is also a challenge for sales representatives.
"We're used to getting close to clients to show them stuff," said Jean-Philippe Guérin, who works on the sales floor of the Brossard store.
After accompanying customers to the cash, he usually gives them a handshake.
It's a reflex he's had to suppress as he's been selling bicycles at the store.
"I feel excited but nervous at the same time," he said. "I never expected to live anything like this in my career."
Bram Naimer, the owner of Union Lighting on Décarie Boulevard, said he was happy with how things went on reopening day.
"I was more concerned that there wouldn't be people outside," Naimer told CBC Montreal's Let's Go.
His store has installed plexiglass between the cash register and customers. Once they select their item, customers can bring their car around back to load it up, or opt for delivery.
Naimer said he's also happy to see people aren't coming into his shop to browse as they already know what they want.
"It's nice to know that people who are walking in are actually coming here to buy something because they need something," he said.
He's now hoping to rehire more of the workers he had to lay off while closed.
With files from Simon Nakonechny