Michigan stores prepare to reopen next week — with some restrictions

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Business owners say they’re happy to reopen their doors next week — even if it does comes with limits — following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest order stating that retailers can admit a limited number of shoppers by appointment only.

The order impacting Michigan retail stores, which takes effect Tuesday, limits the capacity that retailers can have in their store based on square footage. It also calls for social-distancing — and the use of masks for both employees and shoppers. The order also allows healthcare providers to resume nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures starting May 29.

Uli Laczkovich, owner of Ullman's Health and Beauty in Berkley, shows how customers will be able to sample products on a small piece of paper instead of holding and smelling them.

“I’m grateful we’ll be able serve our customers once again,” said David Kositchek, owner of Kositchek's Menswear in Lansing. “It’s been a long road for everyone. We’re looking forward to getting back to somewhat normal.”

Kositchek said his store is prepared to adhere to six-foot social-distancing and will provide masks for customers. In addition to men’s wear, the store will also reopen its shoe and jewelry departments. The hair salon will remain closed. Located a block from the state’s Capitol, Kositchek's Menswear has been in business for 155 years.

“We’ve certainly in our long history had a lot of twists and turns in our economy, however we’ve never been through anything like this,” he said.

Meegan Holland, vice president of the Michigan Retailers Association, said the organization welcomes the reopening of businesses, although they would have preferred for it to happen before Memorial Day.

Holland said she expects some businesses will be able to accommodate customers through walk-up appointments as long as the store doesn't exceed the mandated capacity limit.

“We’ve been telling retailers all along probably starting with a small opening or soft opening is better,” Holland said. “Retailers have had to rethink the layout of their store, where to put hand-sanitizing stations and how to distance the customers from the cashiers. All sorts of things.”

Uli Laczkovich, owner of Ullman's Health and Beauty in Berkley, said the limited capacity will help customers feel cared for and safe. She said she's put precautions in place including plexiglass and a new method for customers to sample products. 

“Nobody can touch a tester,” she said. “On my part I came up with a card and put the portion of the tester on the card and give this to the customer so we have it all individualized.”

Susan Rogal, owner of Vitrine Gallery & Gifts in Berkley, said she and other business owners had pondered how they'd handle a rush of shoppers when they reopened. An appointment-based reopening removes that worry, she said. 

Susan Rogal, owner of Vitrine Gallery & Gifts in Berkley, said she will begin allowing shoppers to book one-hour shopping experiences starting Tuesday.

"As we ease back into it, it’s what’s going to be best," she said.

Rogal is allowing shoppers to book one-hour shopping experiences. There will be a sip-and-shop event with single-serve wine available. "We'll try to make it special," she said.

Nikki Gillette, owner of clothing boutique Lee & Birch, plans to limit clothing pieces on display to one of each size. Lee & Birch has locations in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Rockford and Kalamazoo. If a customer tries on an item and doesn’t purchase it, it will sit in the back until the next day to air out, Gillette said.

“I have heard that some stores are steaming the products afterwards which I’ve been looking into that,” she said.

Dr. Aisha Akpabio of Diamond Smiles Dentistry in Detroit is preparing to book more patients. Her office staff gathers as much information from patients as they can over the phone to limit talking in the office. Patients do not wait in the waiting room and they receive a temperature check when they arrive.

“We have a lot of emergencies that will take precedence, but realistically it may be a week or two later when we will be open to elective care — and that means cleanings and non-emergency dental procedure,” she said.

Akpabio said the number of patients she sees depends on having enough personal protection equipment available. On Thursday, Akpabio said she was trying on a hazmat suit.

In response to the need for personal protection equipment, DTE Energy Foundation in partnership with the government and private sector coalition Detroit Means Business will distribute 5,000 free PPE starter kits starting Monday for Detroit small businesses with up to 50 employees. Each kit will include 100 surgical face masks, 200 gloves and a gallon of hand sanitizer. Businesses can apply at DetroitMeansBusiness.org.


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN