CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As North Carolina transitions into phase one of its plan to reopen, some businesses are moving forward with preparations to see customers again, while others are left waiting a few more weeks.
Ladies of Lineage, a bridal dress store with locations in Fort Mill and Charlotte, is getting its Charlotte location ready for appointments with brides starting Saturday.
The store has been doing virtual bridal gown shopping appointments since it closed in March for COVID-19.
“We've done virtual appointments for the past month,” said Natasha Duff-Cole, owner of Ladies of Lineage. “And though we haven't been able to be with our brides inside of a showroom, it's been really great being able to utilize Zoom and create a website where girls can see the samples that we have available that are for immediate delivery."
Duff-Cole has had to navigate the rules of two states to reopen her stores in North and South Carolina. The Fort Mill location reopened last week, but the Charlotte store won’t open till Saturday under North Carolina’s phase one.
"Our girls that worked in Charlotte, they're down in the South Carolina store right now,” said Duff-Cole. “So, they're prepping for the new procedures that will happen here in Charlotte, and the staff is on board. Everybody's really excited just to work with our brides again."
Duff-Cole said the store is having to change some of its safety protocols with the reopening.
The store will limit the number of people at an appointment and the number of dresses brides try on. Employees will also try to set aside dresses that have been tried on for 48 hours to cut down on contact between brides.
The biggest change under phase one of Governor Cooper’s plan is for retailers. Stores that were deemed “non-essential” will be able to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing.
Childcare centers will open. Restaurants are still only open for takeout and delivery. Gyms remain closed, and in-person worship services can only be held outside with social distancing.
Salons will not be allowed to reopen until phase two is implemented. Governor Cooper said Tuesday that date is set tentatively for May 22, depending on the COVID-19 data.
Salon 42 is making plans for the day stylists can pick back up the scissors.
The salon has four locations in the Charlotte area, a beauty school, and an office and headquarters. The business has been closed to clients since March 17.
"It's tough, our employees are unemployed,” said Cara Viers, owner and president of Salon 42. “They're not able to be creative. They're not able to do what they love, but we have a social responsibility to stay and keep everybody safe."
Viers said she is having meetings with their stylists to talk about ways they can appropriately social distance, keep themselves and customers safe, and clean and sanitize.
Salon 42 is planning to reopen on June 1 out of an abundance of caution if the date for phase two is moved back, but Viers said she is hopeful stylists can get back to work sooner.
"We're ready, and we're gearing up,” Viers said. “You know, every time the date gets moved it's a big challenge for our team, who really aren't working at the moment, to try to arrange thousands of appointments."
Even though the stylists have been out of work, Viers said Salon 42 has been able to provide free root color to clients through curbside pickup in exchange for donations to Loaves and Fishes.
Viers added that clients are anxious to get on the books with an appointment when they do reopen. She said she gets between 200 to 300 calls, emails, or messages a day from people asking when the salon will reopen.
“The staff safety and, you know, all of the public safety is our first and major concern,” Viers said. “Until we can have enough PPE and enough things to make sure that my people and all of our guests are safe, I want to be sure that that’s our first priority.”
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