Ready or not, it’s back to business

Home Column Ready or not, it's back to business

By Steven Feldman

America is reopening for business, state by state, county by county, with rules and restrictions seemingly varying by the mile. What’s not allowed today can change tomorrow, but it’s safe to say we’re moving in a positive direction. And it feels good.

Those who disagree with the reopening of America are of the mindset that outbreaks will occur if we allow this lockdown to expire. Yes, and Lincoln was shot. Of course there will be more positive cases. But it can be argued that things could have been a lot worse if much of the country didn’t move to reopen May 1.

I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of reopening the country, but my gut feeling is most of us in this industry are ready to get back to work and open our doors. I’m guessing by the time you read this editorial, floor covering stores will have been allowed to open in all but a handful of states.

Now, I’m a believer—and a lot of what I’ve read substantiates this—that the third and fourth quarters are going to be good for floor covering retail. You know people have been sitting home staring at their flooring for two months and can’t wait to replace it. You know people will not be taking vacations in the short term. That disposable income is going to be reallocated to home improvements, flooring included. Do you know Google searches for flooring are at an all-time high? Are you aware 67% of people say they will spend as much or more than they planned to prior to the pandemic?

The “X” factor is unemployment. How many of the jobless will have their positions waiting for them? But as salons, restaurants and other small businesses reopen, many people will be back to work. In Wisconsin, which loosened some restrictions last week, it was estimated that allowing the state’s 14,400 small retailers, which have 20 or fewer employees, to reopen will bring back about 90,000 jobs. Magnify that by 50 states.

I think we can all agree, many consumers are in the market for flooring. The key for you is getting them in your stores. Admittedly, they may feel weird for a while. You need to give them some confidence that it’s safe. Here are some of the things retailers in various industries are doing, including the obvious:

  1. Social distancing
  2. Allowing only a certain number of people in the store at once
  3. Special hours for at-risk customers such as the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions
  4. Face coverings for employees
  5. Increased disinfecting of areas often touched, including doors or counters
  6. Temperature checks for all employees (and in some cases, the cus- tomers as well)
  7. Providing hand washing areas or hand-sanitizing dispensers

One retailer told me, “I think people are getting more confident, little by little.” Progress. That’s all we can ask.

We have been going through the most stressful time since the Great Recession. Admittedly, there hasn’t been a lot to laugh about. So, in the spirit of keeping things light, here are a few anecdotes you may find amusing, courtesy of my business partner, Dustin Aaronson:

Ontario has banned groups larger than five people. If you’re a family of six, you’re all about to find out who’s the least favorite.

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Happy hour is starting earlier and earlier. If this keeps up, I’ll be pouring wine in my cereal.

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Today’s weather? Room temperature.

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30 days hath June, September and November. All the rest have 31, except April, which had 8,000.

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Smoking pot and skipping school had me in trouble constantly. Now, weed is legal and school’s closed. Damn kids are living the dream.

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Day 28 of social isolation and it’s looking like Vegas in my house: We’re losing money by the minute; cocktails are acceptable at any hour; and nobody knows what time it is.

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