Retail safety, by the yard Winnipeg store looks to comfortably fit into province's relaxed outdoor gathering cap
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/05/2020 (1108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba’s public health officials are giving the all-clear for a classic springtime community activity — yard and garage sales — so long as everyone maintains social distancing.
For one Winnipeg vintage store, yard sales present a creative opportunity to safely get back in business.
Chip’s Vintage celebrated its first year in January. By March, even before public health orders mandated non-essential businesses shut their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Andrew Chipman had abandoned his plans for spring at the Lilac Street store, and began seeking out creative ways to keep the business afloat.
It started with story sales on Instagram, followed by live auctions on the social media platform. Now, as warm spring weather settles over the city, Chipman plans to wade into yard sales as a way to bring back in-person customer experiences.
“I was brainstorming how we could comfortably, and safely, start having people shop in person; the storefront itself felt kind of premature still,” Chipman said Tuesday, noting the location (173 Lilac St.) is in the basement of a shared building that houses a number of other small businesses.
“Just going off this nice weather and knowing people are eager to get out and go for walks and things like that, I thought I could facilitate this and do it very safely and very thoughtfully to make sure that all precautions are being taken care of and it’s not just a free-for-all.”
“It’s been a funny few days preparing for this where it’s so unknown and it’s so new– I am sort of a little nervous and a little anxious about how I can properly do it.” – Andrew Chipman
On May 1, the province said yard sales should be avoided for the time being.
On Monday, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin doubled back, saying yard and garage sales now fall within the allowances for outdoor gatherings: capped at 50, so long as individuals maintain social distancing. He warned there are still risks to be aware of.
“When you’re talking about garage sales, you’re going to have these frequently-touched surfaces, (and) objects that add a little bit to the risk, so be cautious with it,” Roussin told media at Monday’s briefing.
“Make sure you’re washing your hands frequently and that there isn’t crowding taking place.”
Chipman will give his yard sales a test run Thursday through Saturday, but said he’s open to making adjustments as needed to ensure customers are comfortable and safe.
“It’s been a funny few days preparing for this where it’s so unknown and it’s so new — I am sort of a little nervous and a little anxious about how I can properly do it,” he said.
Only one party at a time will be allowed into the sales tent, which will feature one rack and one table of items. High-touch areas will be sanitized between parties, and the outdoor lineup space will feature markers to keep customers six-feet apart. Customers will also be encouraged to wear face masks while shopping.
“I am open to seeing how Thursday goes, and if I notice this isn’t working properly or it isn’t right, I’m so happy to adapt and make sure that everyone is comfortable,” Chipman said. “I want to make sure that it’s being properly thought through.”
Throughout the pandemic, garage sales have moved into the digital sphere, with several virtual yard sale groups appearing on Facebook.
The opportunity to return to outdoor community sales and meeting in-person is an enticing one, Chipman said, so long as all parties are committed to staying safe.
“I miss the customer experience and I miss my community and I miss seeing people, so it feels like the right step,” he said.
Julia-Simone Rutgers is a climate reporter with a focus on environmental issues in Manitoba. Her position is part of a three-year partnership between the Winnipeg Free Press and The Narwhal, funded by the Winnipeg Foundation.