Are home improvement stores still essential? People can’t stay away.


STAUNTON – On Saturday morning, the Lowe’s on Richmond Avenue was abuzz. The car parking zone was full and other people had been flocking to the principle entrance or backyard heart. 

Even after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam gave an government order to stay-at-home final week, individuals had been nonetheless filling their truck beds with mulch and different gardening gadgets. Some donned face masks and gloves. Inside, some staff had gloves and masks, whereas others didn’t. Massive plastic screens had been put up close to registers and customer support areas.

Lowe’s, House Depot and different residence enchancment shops have been deemed important (that are residence enchancment, {hardware}, constructing materials and constructing provide) retailers.

So, how are you going to social distance there? And what constitutes a necessary go to to those shops?

The reply: There is not a transparent one. It comes all the way down to the client to make use of their greatest judgment in what is important. Do you want the backyard soil? Would it not be higher to attend to order counter tops or purchase front room paint?

What does “important” imply in commonsense phrases?

In response to Pedro Chen, spokesperson with Lowe’s, the shop has been taking preventative measures per CDC pointers to “guarantee the protection of our operations.” Chen mentioned the well being and well-being of the shop’s associates and prospects is a prime precedence. 

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“Our shops stay open to make sure our prospects, authorities officers and first responders have entry to the important services they should hold their households secure, their companies working and their communities wholesome,” Chen mentioned. “Two-thirds of our enterprise is non-discretionary, which means initiatives that require crucial repairs or upkeep, which might be important to permitting individuals to have the ability to safely keep at residence.”

Important gadgets are situated all through the shop.

“We are able to’t decide who’s buying a fridge as a result of it’s damaged or as a result of it’s an improve,” Chen mentioned.

Lowe’s shops have signage encouraging social distancing measures in addition to overhead bulletins each 15 minutes to remind prospects. There are additionally clear indicators and ground markers to bolster CDC social distancing pointers.

Clients even have the choice to checkout by way of cellular level of sale. 

Different measures embrace:

  • Enhancing day by day cleansing efforts
  • Growing time spent cleansing and sanitizing shops
  • Rescheduling non-essential providers and installations
  • Including further third-party cleansing
  • Putting in plexiglass shields at money registers

Extra insurance policies had been added April 2:

  • All shops shut at 7 p.m. day by day to replenish important merchandise and completely clear and sanitize our shops day by day.
  • Masks and gloves obtainable to all associates within the office who need them. All N95 medical masks had been positioned on a cease sale and are being donated to hospitals to guard frontline healthcare staff, together with different private protecting gear for first responders in our communities.
  • An app was developed to implement a new buyer restrict protocol, obtainable now on associates’ handheld units. Every retailer supervisor can now monitor foot visitors and restrict entrance based mostly on CDC and native pointers.
  • There are devoted social distancing ambassadors who will likely be liable for monitoring buyer move in our backyard facilities and front-end areas and implement buyer limits to permit correct social distancing.

As for House Depot, they’ve enacted a restricted quantity of individuals inside the shop, in keeping with spokesperson Christina Cornell. House Depot can be closing all its shops at 6 p.m.

“We have been aggressively reinforcing social distancing, and beginning final week we are actually limiting the variety of prospects in all of our shops,” Cornell mentioned. “The explanation for the change in ours is in order that we’ve a chance to deep clear the shop and restock.”

Have you ever seen situations the place social distancing is not being utilized? Have worries or issues with it? E mail reporter Laura Peters at

The restrict of individuals pertains to the sq. footage of the shop, which will be between 100-150 individuals within the retailer at one time. They’ve additionally remove their spring promotions, like Spring Black Friday, which is the shop’s main sale and income driver.

“We do not need to drive these crowds,” Cornell mentioned. 

As for closing sure sections down or not allowing sure gross sales, Cornell mentioned no. 

“There are some municipalities which have had some ordinances the place we have needed to cease in sure sections of the shop however” not in all places, Cornell mentioned. “I do know lots of people have known as out our backyard part, and we try to implement that social distancing within the backyard part, however there are important gadgets we promote there like propane, retaining partitions … various things like that.”

Cornell mentioned House Depot is having hassle deeming what is important and what is not.

“I do not need to speculate on what somebody deems important and non-essential,” Cornell mentioned. 

As for the questions on curbside pick-ups, for Lowe’s you may order on-line and pick-up on the retailer, besides it’s a must to go inside to get your gadgets. The identical for House Depot, besides they’re making an attempt to rollout extra curbside choices at their shops. Each supply supply for a delivery fee. 

Smaller backyard operations, like JMD Farm Market and Backyard Heart, are providing on-line ordering and curbside pick-up for much less contact and correct social distancing. Staunton Plant Firm is providing providers like soil supply — simply to call a number of locations, domestically.

The Information Chief reached out the Gov. Northam’s workplace for a clearer definition about what is important at residence enchancment shops below order 53 however didn’t get a direct response. 

Have a information tip?

You’ll be able to attain reporter Laura Peters at Observe her @peterslaura.

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