Advice from essential businesses to those getting ready to open

Kayla Anderson
Tahoe Daily Tribune

While most of Tahoe has been closed under “stay-at-home” orders issued by California and Nevada governors, now other “nonessential” businesses are slowly allowed to open as long as they follow the new health standards.

However, now everyone must abide by 6 feet social distancing rules, wear a mask, and change their operations to detract people gathering in clusters.

Here are how some essential businesses who’ve been open for a while have been handling it and what other businesses waiting to reopen can expect.

Village Market, Incline Village

The family-owned grocery store that’s been around for more than 30 years in Incline Village made a few changes to its operations quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic developed which have been paying off in the long run.

“We put up sneeze shields and it makes customers feel more comfortable,” Village Market Manager Bill Presswood says. “We went down to the hardware store and bought plexiglass and built it in.”

Village Market staff is sure to take and sanitize each shopping cart after every use, wiping down all handles all the time on the carts and hand baskets as well. “I think when customers are aware of it and see you doing that then it makes them feel safe,” he says.

Village Market provides gloves, face masks, shields, and hand sanitizer that they sell and use themselves, being extra cautious to practice social distancing from customers and each other. Along with that, they’ve changed how they restock the shelves.

“We don’t do it while people are in the aisles and find it’s better to come in a little earlier to restock the shelves so that there’s one less point of contact,” says Presswood. “I came in at 4 a.m. to stock the shelves this morning before we opened at 8:30 a.m. and it’s a lot better,” he says.

He suggests putting an extra employee on the schedule to clean shelves, bathrooms, and re-sanitize touch points and is thankful that they have respectful customers too. “We have great customers, 80% of them that come in here wear face masks,” he says.

“It’s about making sure that customers know it’s safe to shop in your store and that you’re providing a clean environment,” Presswood says about what advice he would give to businesses waiting to reopen.

T-Mobile, South Lake Tahoe

Cellular service providers are essential businesses, too, and have struggled to stay open through COVID-19 to keep everyone connected. The T-Mobile store in South Lake Tahoe has seen a huge drop in sales as some people are confused on what they can and can’t do in there.

“We don’t really get anybody in the store now, I think people are staying home and ordering online. It’s pretty dead,” says T-Mobile Sales Lead Luis Vaobez.

In the beginning, the T-Mobile store in South Lake cut back their hours of operation but now that more businesses are reopening across the country the cell service provider is going back to its normal hours.

T-Mobile requires that customers wear a mask while in its store, so when asked what the biggest challenge is, Vaobez replies, “50% of our customers are happy (about the policy to wear a mask) but the other 50% are mad and that drives business out.”

Vaobez adds that as an employee, it is uncomfortable wearing a mask all day, especially since they keep the store at a constant 71-degree temperature. “It gets hot,” he laughs.

As far as advice for other businesses in the process of reopening, Vaobez says, “The best thing for businesses reopening is to know that you are going to lose some business if you enforce a mask rule, but we’re all in this together. I’ll be honest, it’s weird seeing babies wear masks but it is what it is. People are going to struggle for sure.”

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