The Resiliency of ReStore During the COVID-19 Pandemic
It did not take much time after the unexpected and unprecedented pandemic for the Chesapeake ReStore to take swift action to provide a safe, engaging and confident shopping experience for our customers, volunteers, partners, and staff. Almost a year later, the Chesapeake ReStores continue to set one of the best examples for customer-facing retailers.
Like countless retailers across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Habitat Chesapeake to temporarily close our ReStores for the health of our staff and customers. This was a huge deal since the six Chesapeake ReStore locations play a vital role of bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our affordable homeownership program. For countless retailers, the disruption of daily sales resulted in thousands if not millions of dollars lost – many closing their doors permanently. However, after a near 2-month shutdown the Chesapeake ReStore safely reopened their doors and today, are doing better than ever.
Michael Brunson, Assistant Manager of Timonium ReStore (located at 7 W. Aylesbury Road, Timonium, MD 21093) noted 2020 as a “year of change, especially given social distancing and implemented COVID protocols” for the ReStore. Michael, who has been a team member for 3 years now, played a key role in leading his team and volunteers in adapting to COVID procedures. “Face masks, hand sanitizing, and staying 6-feet apart were all introduced as a new normal for us all.”
From March to May of last year, while the ReStores remained closed, Michael began to take note of the differences within his store from before the shut down and after they reopened. “Customers were a little more stressed than normal, there was a need for furniture and other items more than ever due to shortages everywhere, and we had a lot less volunteers”. Michael’s perspective rang true on so many levels. Just as affordable homeownership remained a critical need, access to affordable building materials including furniture, appliances, and home improvement items also increased as we all adjusted to spending more times in our homes.
This new normal was exactly that – new. New routines, procedures and even the discontinuance of physical contact not only brought about a new shopping experience but a volunteer experience as well. Volunteer opportunities were limited due to social distancing regulations and our stores capacities. Our continued effort to keep our staff, customers, and volunteers safe became our top priority as the national COVID numbers continued to increase.
Another new normal? New operating hours. Soon after reopening, the Timonium ReStore along with the additional five ReStore locations altered its schedule from operating 7-days a week to five, closing its doors on Sundays and Mondays. “Since the change business here has increased! Even being closed 2 days a week, we do more now than we did before the pandemic.”
No one could have guessed that a retailer would generate more revenue during a pandemic than in years prior – but the Chesapeake ReStore proved otherwise. A true testament to the level trust, confidence and care felt by our customers and the support, strength and resiliency of our Chesapeake ReStores and staff.
We thank Michael and our amazing Chesapeake ReStore team for helping to build life back into the store that builds homes. If you’d like to continue to support our Chesapeake ReStores please drop by one of our six ReStore locations. Your support enables us to build homes, communities and hope across Central Maryland. To learn more, please visit www.chesapeakerestore.org