AUSTIN, Texas - The only traffic rolling through South Congress are cars as foot traffic has nearly halted since businesses have shuttered their windows during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Retail stores across the state have been given the green light to partially open its doors to offer to-go services.
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“It’s uncharted territory for everyone for sure,” said Blake Abbot, Allen’s Boots General Manager. “We shut down a month and a half ago, it's been difficult for my staff and for the store itself. It’s good to see that we are taking a step forward. This feels a little bit like light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, boots can be hard to shop for online to alleviate that problem for customers Allen’s boot’s is offering social distance fittings.
“Safety is paramount so we are going to make sure that our staff is taking the proper safety precautions, maintaining social distancing and wiping all the surfaces and all the boots down,” Abbot said.
A quick drive up north, Terra’s Toys has the “retail- to-go” business model down. The store remained open during the stay at home order because it’s considered an essential service, providing parents with tools to increase children’s education and learning developments. Before Covid-19 the toy didn’t have a need for a website.
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“There is no way that we could put a hundred thousand different items on a website,” said Sylvia Edwards, Terra Toys General Manager. “The store represents over 3,000 individual vendors and a lot of the vendors Terra Toys carries make rare one of a kind pieces.”
Aside from online purchases, customers can get a virtual shopping experience at Allen’s Boots and Terra Toys. Edwards said her team of fewer than six will ask customers what their child likes and their budget and show them items throughout their store.
“Once your personal shopping session starts it’s really fun,” said Edwards. “We send you videos and photos of all of the pics we would choose for your child in the store.”
Unfortunately, the retail-to-go model does not fit all stores. Thrift shoppers can purchase select items for Goodwill online but a spokesperson for Goodwill explains stores cannot open until shopping returns to the way it was.
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