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Retailers adapt to pandemic

Despite the challenges of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, several local businesses have embraced them and are working hard to stay open.

“It’s the same old, same old. It’s just a lot harder,” said Blazing Blades salon owner Lana Allen.

Blazing Blades had to shut down when Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential businesses closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since reopening, Allen said she and her staff follow Sisolak’s mask mandate and directives that require social distancing when possible and limit store occupancy to 50 percent.

Allen said they also had to cut their prices because they don’t provide washing and styling for haircuts because of the possibility of contaminated air being spread throughout the business.

“I’m not taking that chance with my girls. … I try to do all the right things,” she said.

Allen and her staff do extra cleaning, use hand sanitizer and have removed some of the chairs for customers to use while they wait. She said the hardest part of this pandemic is not the new requirements, however. It was having to be closed for three and half months while still having to pay her bills.

Heather Marianna, owner of Beauty Kitchen, said the social distancing requirements and employees’ limited availability because their children are at home instead of school has made staffing her warehouses and her store a struggle.

“It’s really hard to find people to work during the day,” she said.

She said she used to have five people working per shift at each of her warehouses but now she can only have three, and she had to add another shift to accommodate her employees.

To follow Sisolak’s mandate, Marianna requires her employees and everyone who comes in the store to wear a mask.

“We’ve had issues with people coming in without masks,” she said. “We ask them to leave because I don’t want to get a fine.”

In her store, Marianna said she had to remove her tester products, so she and her staff started to give out free take-home samples.

“It actually feels like it’s doing better,” she explained. “People take it home and use it there and then buy more.”

She’s also added a local pickup option for online orders.

Business for Home Hardware & Variety has actually picked up during the pandemic, according to owner Roger Tobler.

He said it is because the True Value store was allowed to stay open when others had to close and with more people forced to stay at home, they worked on projects. They purchased supplies for those projects from his store.

Tobler did say, however, that it’s been difficult stocking the shelves.

“Some products have been hard to get,” he said. “We have had to find new vendors.”

The store does require its staff and customers to wear masks and social distance when possible. Tobler also installed plexiglass shields for the cashiers.

Even with the increased business now, Tobler said he expects it to return to normal in the long run.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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