Nurseries and garden stores are on a short-list of businesses currently allowed to operate in the state.
As more and more places are cleared to open up by the governor, lessons may be able to be learned from businesses that are already open and adapting.
Click on the player above to hear English Gardens President John Darin talk about how the company is working to keep customers and staff safe.
English Gardens is a family-owned, regional chain with six retail locations around metro Detroit.
“Our busiest months of the year are usually April, May and June,” says John Darin, President and Co-owner of the small chain. His father and uncle started the business with another partner in Dearborn Heights in 1954. Darin says, because of the pandemic, the company had to lay off 200 hourly workers and shut down operations in late March. As they were preparing to re-open on April 25th, Darin says some employees said they weren’t comfortable returning to work.
“We’ve got a group that are over 65, they know we want them back but we don’t want them back quite yet,” says Darin. “And then we’ve got another group that is just afraid of the virus.”
“We’re following all the CDC requirements and requirements of our state governor, but we’re doing some things above and beyond.” — John Darin, English Gardens
Now that English Gardens has reopened, it’s implemented a number of safety measures, including requiring customers and staff to wear masks, allowing customers to checkout outside, and offering special hours for seniors and high risk individuals Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:00 am — 9:00 am. Staff are also regularly wiping down carts and counters and English Gardens has hired a company to use electro-static spray to sterilize high frequency areas like checkouts and restrooms.
“We’re following all the CDC requirements and requirements of our state governor, but we’re doing some things above and beyond,” Darin says.
Darin says the biggest challenge has been getting all of the customers to put masks on. But he says, when staff approach individuals in the parking lot they typically just go to their car and grab their mask before entering the store or, if they don’t have a mask, then English Gardens supplies one for them.