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Retail

Furniture Stores Are Starting to Reopen, Cautiously

As some states begin easing coronavirus restrictions on businesses, home furnishings stores in South Carolina began opening their stores,

4/27/2020
Maynards Home store front
South Carolina began easing coronavirus restrictions and home furnishings retailers Maynard's Home Furnishings, Garden City Furniture and Chapin Furniture open their doors for business.

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- As some states begin easing coronavirus restrictions on businesses, home furnishings stores in South Carolina began opening their stores -- and other states are expected to follow suit -- according to a survey of local retailers published by the Home Furnishings Association.
 
Business opening their doors must furniture and home furnishings retailers must operate at 20 percent occupancy or five customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. 


MAYNARD'S HOME FURNISHINGS



Maynard's Home Furnishings team (from left, Alderman, Rex and Blake Maynard) share their experience and new business strategy following North Carolina's easing of coronavirus-19 restrictions.


"I said we have never, never had that many people in our stores," Rex Maynard, CFO and president Maynard's Home Furnishings, joked. Still Maynard, second-generation owner of Maynard's, which operates two stores in South Carolina, has taken the coronavirus threat very seriously and has increased its health and safety precautions during the ongoing pandemic. Despite the state order for non-essential businesses to close April 6, some of Maynard's competitors in the Greenville-area stayed open, he said.

 

"We thought it was best to close," Maynard said. "We would have hated for a staff member or customer to contract the virus."


During the shutdown, Maynards did business by phone or by appointment with appropriate social distancing, and the company recorded a drop in sales of 75 percent.


Despite that Maynard's kept all 14 full-time employees at its Belton and Piedmont stores on the payroll. The company secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan through a regional bank where Maynard had an account, which will help the company with its recovery.


But Maynard doesn't expect business to come back all at once, and he's not sure it should.


"I'm glad to open back up, but I don't want to be coming back too soon so all we sacrificed goes for naught," he said.
 

So, he and his sons, Alderman and Blake, made a video laying out new protocols. Posted on Maynard's Facebook page, it had drawn nearly 3,000 views in its first 24 hours. "It's daunting to know the virus still exists,"


Alderman Maynard, VP and chief sales officer, noted and while he said that it's "great news" that Maynard's can reopen he added, "It's also daunting to know that the virus still exists. The safety and well-being of our customers and staff, that's still priority number one.


"We're going to start opening gradually," he continued, The stores will be opened with modified hours of operationfrom be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until May 2. "From then, we'll evaluate the situation."

 

"We'll be taking every precaution to make sure our showrooms are a safe environment for our customers and our staff," COO Blake Maynard said. "We'll be wiping down door handles, credit card machines, light switches, and cleaning surfaces that could get dirty multiple times a day. Sales consultants will practice social distancing, and delivery crews will take proper precautionary measures as well."


Said Alderman Maynard, "We look forward to seeing everyone soon, whether it be tomorrow or someday in the future when they feel confident coming out to shop. We'll be here. We're going to come out of this stronger than ever before, and we look forward to serving you and future generations to come."


For now, precautions include not delivering products into customers' homes but placing them on front porches and garages. But some customers prefer to wait until deliveries can be carried into their homes, Rex Maynard said. "Building confidence -- in customers and employees -- will be a process."

 

He added that watching the Home Furnishings Association live webinars has provided information to help him through this period.


GARDEN CITY FURNITURE


Garden City Furniture held a "soft opening" following South Carolina's easing of Covid-19 restrictions that began on April 21.


Garden City Furniture & Mattress in Murrells Inlet, had a "soft opening" earlier this week, owner Dianne Ray said, pointing out that despite the store's closure, online business continued. Most showroom visits were done by appointment only, but "we had some drifters" -- shoppers just wanting to get out of the house and do something, she added.

 

For Garden City Furniture & Mattress, a short drive from Myrtle Beach on the South Carolina coast, having to close periodically isn't a new experience. The business has been shuttered by hurricanes many times. At least now, "There's nothing to clean up," Ray said. But there have been adjustments.


"We've had more activity on our website than we've ever had," she said. "We see now the value of it. It had not been that important to us. We're trying to get our website priced."


While the business was closed, sales staff members were calling and emailing customers to stay in touch -- and the business was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.


The program has allowed Garden city to pay sales staff salaries that are not less than they earned on commission and usually higher. Ray is more determined than ever to keep them.

 

Garden City Furniture opens its stores, but on an appointment-only basis.


CHAPIN FURNITURE


Chapin Furniture opened its doors again to the public on April 25 after the state began lifting restrictions for non-essential businesses.


Chapin Furniture in Chapin, South Carolina, reopened its store on Saturday, April 25. The re-opening comes days after the loss of company's founder, Joseph A. Grimaud Jr., who died April 18.


"My father passed away this weekend, and that's really the only reason for the delay," Chapin Furniture President Keith Grimaud wrote in an email to the HFA. "I wanted to be available when we opened.


"We did get approved for and received funding on the first round of PPP loans," he added. "So plan to start using that money effective next pay period. The past two weeks I have been paying out of a separate account to track payments to staff via the Emergency Sick Leave Act for 80 hours.


"I am not sure what the crowds will look like, but hopefully traffic will be better than it was prior to closing temporarily. Thanks to you and your team for all the guidance and help during this time.  It's been a huge help!"


Chapin Furniture let customers know it is now open for business again on its website.


MORE STATES LIFT STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS SOON


Other states quickly followed South Carolina in lifting restrictions. Montana eased restrictions on April 24, Colorado on April 26, and Mississippi begins easing lock-down rules April 27, followed on April 29 in North Carolina. On April 30, Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming plan to slowly begin opening businesses.


Not all orders have the same requirements, and all are subject to change. States not listed either have not put statewide restrictions in place or have orders extending into May or June.


The HFA has resources to help furniture retailers plan for responsible reopening. Unless customers are confident that they can shop safely, they may not return to stores when doors open. For the latest association Covid-19 updates, click here..

 

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