The specialty record shop, which opened in North Carolina before moving to the District and then Virginia, plans to reopen Saturday with reduced hours and social distancing rules in place. Like other businesses, it has been preparing for the resumption of business following months of government-ordered closures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District gradually loosen stay-at-home rules that have been in place because of the pandemic, business owners are stocking up on hand sanitizer and putting up signs requiring masks.
But others plan to sit it out a little longer. Trim Hair Salon in Washington wrote in a social media post that although D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) will allow hair salons to reopen under certain guidelines, the staff at the Adams Morgan business believes it’s still too risky.
“I’ve heard about other salon owners sneaking people in even before we were allowed to open, and I just have a very hard time with that,” Mercedes Ortiz-Olivieri, Trim Hair Salon’s owner, said in an interview.
“Are we really making decisions based on commerce? It’s community health, not just individual health, and I’m a community business,” Ortiz-Olivieri said. “I couldn’t live with myself if I knew somebody got sick, and especially if they ended up in a grave situation. It’s just too soon.”
But Booker Parchment, owner of Mr. Braxton Bar and Kitchen in Petworth, was among the owners eager to see even a fraction of his patrons face-to-face again. His restaurant — which offers everything from truffle macaroni and cheese to New Zealand rack of lamb — has been offering takeout since the shutdown.
In the run-up to the District’s reopening Friday, when outdoor dining will be permitted, Parchment and his team have been putting out several plants and flowers in the patio area, plus a seven-foot topiary.
“We wanted to make it feel like a secret garden,” he said.
His staff members, of course, will be wearing masks. And he’s also paring down the hours and the number of employees. The restaurant has spaced out tables so they are at least six feet apart, and set up vintage doors as dividers to give customers a sense of privacy. Parchment believes he can host as many as 28 people safely and comfortably.
“The staff is excited,” Parchment said. “It’s a sign of life, getting back to a state of normalcy.”
At the upscale salon and spa Andre Chreky in the District, staff members are preparing for customers starting Friday, and it will not be business as usual. Serena Chreky, who co-founded the business with her husband, said there will be no spa or nail services. No waxing. They won’t even use the blow dryers.
“It’s just cut and color,” Chreky said. “We’re uncertain about blow dryers because of the air flow.”
The salon posted a message on its Instagram account with an itemized list of the things it has purchased to keep clients safe: “12 gallons of hand sanitizer, 1000 face masks, 24 face shields, 3000 gloves, 2000 disinfecting wipes, 3 gallons of anti-microbial soap, a dozen safety signs, and lots of smiles.”
“Yay!!!!!” a customer replied. “I’ve been waiting for this day!!!!!”
In Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan (R) lifted stay-at-home orders earlier this month but allowed jurisdictions to decide whether it was safe to resume business as usual in their area, business owners felt whipsawed by the seemingly conflicting stances.
Robert Harper, who owns a vintage bookstore in Hyattsville, assumed Prince George’s County would allow stores to open at 50 percent capacity when it begins lifting restrictions on Monday.
After two months with his business’s doors closed, Harper said he was hanging “mask required” signs and taking other steps to reopen his shop, My Dead Aunt’s Books. A young salesperson, who has recovered from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was willing to work the cash register, he said.
But then Harper learned that his business will be able to do curbside retail only, which he said could be scarce in an arts district that thrives on foot traffic.
Stephanie Landrum, president and chief executive of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said the public-private nonprofit has hosted several webinars counseling city businesses on how to comply with the rules and guidelines of reopening.
Restaurants are learning how to configure safe seating areas. Fitness classes, which can operate outside, might take advantage of open space in public parks.
Landrum said that if there’s a silver lining, it may be that a tentative consensus has been reached to close part of Old Town’s King Street — a long-debated issue — to vehicular traffic this summer to create more space for social distancing.
“It’s just a lot of details that are new to these businesses. But it’s also new to local governments and we’re all trying to take them in,” Landrum said.
Daly, of Crooked Beat Records, said the business might not have made it this far if not for curbside pickup and online sales through a newly reconfigured website. He said he’s thankful for its loyal fan base — many from the District and many interested in punk, classic rock, indie rock and local bands — who have kept the orders coming in.
When the shop reopens on Saturday, there will be plenty of hand sanitizer and a shortened schedule that allows staff members to clean the store on what are normally the slowest days of the summer season, Daly said. The store will also allow only five customers at a time. But those screen-fatigued music fans will at least be free to search for rare editions of Clash, Nirvana or Neutral Milk Hotel records with their own eyes and fingers.
“Nothing beats that,” Daly said Thursday. “It’s great to look at stuff online, but to go into a physical store and experience that — your brain’s moving a hundred miles an hour and you’re able to look at stuff. You’re looking up everywhere and you’re saying, ‘Oh wow, look at that — I didn’t even think of that band.’ ”