Jane Spencer, owner of Fabrications, a clothing store for women on Kenneth Street, has reopened her store with an appointment-only policy during the COVID-19 crisis. (Submitted photo)

Business notes: Cowichan Valley businesses adapt to COVID-19 crisis

Some local businesses are adapting to handle the new realities and restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Fabrications, a clothing store for women on Kenneth Street, has been closed for several weeks due to the pandemic, but it reopened earlier this week on an appointment-only basis.

Owner Jane Spencer said she has researched the proper way for stores like hers to operate during the health crisis, and decided a one-on-one approach with the customers, who are required to make appointments, is the best way forward.

She said that, for now, she will be the only staff member at the store during the appointments and she will be wearing a mask.

“I will also be taking the temperatures of the customers and myself before the appointments, I will have lots of hand sanitizer on site and all the clothing in the store will be sprayed and disinfected, as well as the entire store being wiped down regularly,” Spencer said.

“All the protocols of social distancing will also be practiced. I’m taking this very seriously.”

Spencer said Fabrications has also revamped its website to allow online shopping for the first time, but she believes that her store will fill with customers once again when the pandemic finally ends.

“I think people love the human connection and building relationships, and like to touch the clothes and products they are considering buying,” she said.

“Having online shopping now is icing on the cake, but I don’t think it will replace human contact in this industry.”

Spencer can be reached at 250-746-4751, 250-246-7269 or email at fab125@shaw.ca.

•••

Outlooks Menswear on Station Street is also in operation by using the “by appointment-only” approach, and is open for appointments from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Owner Miles Anderson also said social distancing and other protocols are in place in the store, and he’s currently the only staff member there until business starts to return to normal.

He said the switch to appointments only has received a good response from customers.

“Business is certainly picking up, and I’ve been noticing that there is more than just a trickle of people starting to come downtown again,” Anderson said.

“[Provincial health officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry said things may soon be returning to normal [as the COVID-19 transmission rate slows and testing increases] in B.C. and has targeted mid-May, so we’re hoping that we’ll be able to soon return to normal business practices.”

•••

The Old Farm Market & Pottery Centre on Francis Street also reopened in the middle of April after being closed for three weeks as a result of the pandemic.

Owner Robin Knox said she is also practising social distancing and other protocols related to coronavirus, and only allows so many in the store at a time and has introduced one-way traffic to keep people apart.

But she said a lot of the area of the store is outdoors, which makes it easier for people to social distance themselves.

“These are the three months that we make enough for the year, with May being the busiest month,” Knox said.

“The weather has been nice so far this spring and people are now looking for things for their garden, including planters and hanging baskets. We’re currently open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays. I’d like to be open more, but I just don’t have enough staff right now. I expect that may change in the next few weeks.”

•••

The Malahat Nation opened a cannabis dispensary on their lands at 1800 Trowsse Rd., Mill Bay, on April 20.

The Malahat Nation has partnered with Indigenous Bloom to open the store.

Medicinal and recreational cannabis products will be sold at the location, with product standards that meet and/or exceed federal and provincial standards, according to a press release.

Physical distancing and other protocols will be followed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Malahat Nation is excited for the economic opportunity that Indigenous Bloom brings to our community,” said Malahat Chief George Harry.

“The opening of the dispensary creates employment for our people and needed revenue for our community. We hope this is the first of many new businesses to come to Malahat Nation lands.”

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