Evansville business owner talks reopening, how things have changed since COVID-19

Coronavirus Watch Indiana

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — As of May 4, several businesses were allowed to reopen in Indiana. Retailers can operate at 50% capacity, including House of Bluez, a boutique in Evansville.

Owner Jodi Merrick talked to Eyewitness News about reopening and how business operations have changed since COVID-19.


Brandon Bartlett: Jodi, thanks for joining us tonight. Your Business House of Blues reopened yesterday. How is business?

Jodi Merrick: Well, business has been totally different than it ever has been before. We are a standard brick and mortar. And so after all of this came about, things have been different from the get go. And that’s why reopening is so vital to the core of our business, but doing so in the safest way that we can, and, you know, just making sure that, you know, we’re still being able to provide the experience that our customers are used to. we create an atmosphere here at the Store. And doing that virtually has definitely been a challenge over the past six to seven weeks, but we’re all kind of learning a new way. And with that being said the opening this week is also a little new and we’re taking it day by day, but also keeping every single guideline and what the CDC has been telling us and just really what we feel is safe for us here at the store. And then the most important is our customers. And with that we are you know, using sanitation, like lots of sanitation methods within the store on all of our surfaces as you enter the store, throughout our dressing rooms. All of those things are completely different but I feel really confident in how that’s going to continue throughout just not just this week but as we continue to get more and more accessible to our customers. It’s by appointment only right now or virtually shopping like we’ve been providing over the last six weeks.

Brandon Bartlett: So your customers do need to make an appointment to come in. Is that right?

Jodi Merrick: Yes. And that’s mostly for the safety of everyone. The square footage of this store allows for multiple people to safely distance, it’s over 3000 square feet, but I just felt better having scheduled appointments. And then that way I could make sure that in between each one, we were able to clean any dressing rooms that needed to be cleaned. Making sure everyone feels safe and just not knowing how it was going to go. I just felt like this week it was going to continue to be by appointment only. So I could control and manage that a lot better.

Brandon Bartlett: And you told me earlier that you were really surprised at the number of people who came in yesterday.

Jodi Merrick: I was surprised by the number of people that wanted to come in yesterday. I wasn’t prepared for that. And I did not set the day up for that amount of time. So we moved some people around, rescheduled for later on this week. I do local deliveries on Monday morning, but that kind of cuts my Monday availability down a little bit so I was having people just call like hey, we’re in town or like people that were not from the area Can we come in? So I had to juggle a few appointments yesterday to allow for some out of town people that had made the trip an hour away here to come in and have extended hours later than I normally probably would have on a Monday.

Brandon Bartlett: Now are you asking your customers to wear a face mask and what about if they want to try on clothes?

Jodi Merrick: That has been you know, a question I feel like we’re all a little uncertain of. We have commercial steamers here in the store that I feel really confident that would take care of any germs that would possibly be on them or if the customer feels the need when they get home they can launder the clothing right away. They can put it in the dryer, the heat itself. is fine for that. And as far as the mask, we will be wearing masks when people come in. I don’t wear a mask all day long if no one is here, and I recommend or encourage customers to wear a mask if they feel they need to, but the social distance distancing part of it, I think will be enough in here when it’s a one on one situation for the time being.

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