Getting back to browsing: Windsor retailers eager to bring customers back

Forced to close, or rely on curbside pickup for more than two months, non-essential retailers are busy Thursday, tidying up their shops.

The provincial government closed non-essential retail for in-store shopping on April 1, but they are allowed to reopen in Step One of the Roadmap to Reopening Ontario on Friday.

“We had to close completely,” says Liz Munsterhjelm, owner of Casa Chevala, a gift shop in Windsor.

“A store like ours, with so many original things from all over the world curbside would be difficult.”

The lockdown was especially frustrating for Munsterhjelm who is ready to retire this year, after 36 years in business in downtown Windsor.

“It’s like a double whammy. We had to wait, to retire because of the pandemic,” says Munsterhjelm. “Essentially we’re opening so we can close before the end of the year because I’d like to have some time to myself.”

“Good times are coming I think,” says John Ashley, owner of Galaxy Records, where it’s only upbeat positive music spinning on the record player today.

Ashley admits business was tough, when all he could do was curbside.

“Record people wanna look,” says Ashley. “They can’t come to the back door, oh I’ll have a Springsteen ‘Born to Run’ and then that’s it, they leave. They wanna come in for that and then they may see other things or we talk or I may recommend something.”

Clothing retailers, especially, say browsing is key.

Linda’s Fashions is closed Thursday, completely, to give staff time to reset the store from a fashion show space, back to a boutique.

“Everything has been on the floor,” says owner Linda Innes “We been like a little warehouse since we’ve been doing these Facebook videos, because we been pulling clothes, putting them on racks. Stuff is just all over the place.”

As of Friday June 11, non-essential retailers can reopen, with no restriction on what they can sell, but they must limit indoor capacity to 15 per cent occupancy.

The timing couldn’t be better for Bob Reaume, who’s sports store will open in time for their annual Father’s Day sidewalk sale.

“Which is easily the best four days for us in the month of June,” says Reaume.

Reaume is relieved to be reopening, but is anxious for local minor sports to resume because that is what will really make or break his summer.

“For the most part they (athletes) didn’t buy anything to start the year, even if they needed it because you weren’t playing,” he says.