Ohio has a patchwork retail reopening as stores weigh profit, safety

Posted at 5:07 PM, May 13, 2020

Some Cincinnati-area stores remained reluctant to open Wednesday, a full 48 hours after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ended his prohibition on non-essential retail services in the state.

At shopping centers like Rookwood Pavilion and Kenwood Towne Centre, dark storefronts sat side-by-side with those that had opted to cautiously to welcome customers again.

“We spent a long time working through this,” said Michael Link, publisher relations manager at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. “We have a lot of procedures in place."

At the bookstore’s reopened Rookwood location, all common areas are now sanitized every hour, social distance markers have been placed within the store, and special shelves have been set aside for items that customers have touched to await sanitization.

The 51-day shutdown was hard, Link said. Joseph-Beth fulfilled online orders and eventually curbside pickup, but the financial toll of the closure forced the chain to close its Crestview Hills location for good, according to a Facebook post from CEO Adam Miller.

“I think the situation has been hard on a lot of local businesses,” Link said.

Choosing between a reopening that could be spoiled by irresponsible customers or employees and remaining closed, as other Rookwood stores did, is just as hard.

Near the reopened Joseph-Beth, Athleta and Gap stores remained closed. Ulta Beauty workers delivered curbside orders but kept customers out of the store.

At Kenwood Towne Centre, 48 stores were open Wednesday – more than the 38 that had been open the day before, but still far from a full complement. The Macy’s and Nordstrom locations that bookend the mall were closed.

Anyone who plans to shop for the rest of the week should look online before they head out, wear a mask if possible and continue to practice social distancing.