Retail stores in South Carolina prepare to welcome customers back, follow social distancing guidelines

Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Buddy Delaney owns Best Mattress in West Columbia. He said when they open up their tomorrow showrooms, they'll have strict guidelines in place to protect his customers and staff.

Delaney said, "I think people will have some confidence knowing businesses will be doing the right thing. We're wiping down all the customer contact surfaces. We're only allowing one couple in the showroom at a time." He also said they will have fresh, clean sheets for customers who want to lay on beds.

Delaney's business and other retail stores were given the green light to open their doors to customers Monday afternoon.

Delaney said the last few weeks have been tough. They were coming off one of their best years ever and were having a great year sales-wise in January and February. He said because of all the coronavirus pandemic, sales have nearly come to a halt for his small, family-owned business.

He said they've had to close one of their showrooms. Delaney said like so many other businesses, they are waiting on their money from the Paycheck Protection Program.

According to Delaney, other small business owners he knows are anxious to get back to normal. He said he understands why everything is happening in phases. "They know if we open it back up fully - we'll be right back in this at the end of the summer," he said.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce said things will move very slowly for businesses because there are still major concerns over the coronavirus. President and CEO Frank Knapp said, "It's going to take a lot of time because everybody is very concerned getting around people. Social distancing is very important."

Knapp, who is also a small business owner himself, said only time will tell what long term impacts this pandemic will have on small businesses in the state. He said any revenue these businesses can bring in right now will make a difference. "

"All the businesses that were in existence in January and February are not going to be there when we come out of this," Knapp said.

When it comes to safety, Delaney said it's a two-way street between customers and businesses. "They're smart enough to understand if they're not feeling well with a fever or any one of these four or five signs -- to not come in," he said.

Right now, retail stores in South Carolina can only have 20% of their occupancy or five customers for every 1,000 square feet -- whichever is less.

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