When economies grind to a halt and more people get bumped into precarious financial situations, it's usually a time for second-hand shops to shine.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throws a wrinkle into that potential rise, though, as customers potentially avoid second-hand items or brick-and-mortar retail as a whole.
As Pearl's Value and Vintage prepares for a June 8 reopening, store manager Kate Harvey isn't entirely sure what to expect.
"What I can see in the community, people seem to be really excited about us opening," she said. "We're reducing our budgets and our expectations. We do think that there will be people who won't be comfortable and will stay away."
Harvey said Pearl's will employ what is now standard procedure of having sanitizer at the entrance, limiting the number of people in the store at one time, encouraging physical distance between customers, and placing directional signage on the floor. Other precautions include installing plexiglass at the checkout, requiring staff and volunteers to wear masks and gloves, and sanitizing baskets. As well, instead of welcoming four or five volunteers at a time, many of whom are seniors, there will only be one on duty.
However, as a second-hand store, there are additional precautions and procedures that need to be implemented, which is why Pearl's is planning to open later than some might expect.
Harvey said Pearl's is looking to source a storage container to place behind the store to quarantine clothing, linens and other soft goods for three to five days.
As well, all items with hard surfaces will be disinfected upon receipt.
"We do know that the virus does live on hard surfaces, plastic and metal and things like that, for longer, so those items have to be disinfected," she said.
The store is also considering placing a receiver outside to triage donations before they enter the building. Meanwhile, donation hours will be limited to between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
"Obviously, that is going to take more work, more manpower and more effort, so to do that, we're limiting our donation hours," Harvey said. "People have been so amazing about the fact that they're holding onto their donations and being patient, and it must have been tough for people because they've literally got nowhere to take things right now.
"We're obviously concerned about the onslaught of donations that's going to hit us quickly," she added with a chuckle.
Of course, once items are disinfected inside the store, there's the dilemma that all retail outlets are facing regarding what happens when they're touched by shoppers.
Harvey said customers will not be allowed to try on clothing and will instead be encouraged to instead return it if it's not a fit, while shoppers will be strongly encouraged to sanitize their hands upon entry.
With its proceeds going to the Howe Sound Women's Centre, the store's temporary closure has impacted the charity. However, locals came out to support the non-profit with donations and by purchasing Pearl's gift cards.
"It's been a huge financial hit," Harvey said.
The Chief called another local second-hand shop, Random and Co., in addition to sending emails and Facebook messages, but did not hear back before press time.
"We are busy making plans for re-opening! So excited to welcome you all back. Stay tuned it won't be long," the store posted to Instagram on May 11.
This story originally appeared in The Squamish Chief on May 19.