SLO retail shops look to phone and online sales to stay in business

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Local businesses that aren’t on the list of “essential” businesses allowed to remain open are finding ways to remain operational.
CONTINUING SALES Retail businesses fall under the limited services list which means they can still sell their products online and over the phone. - FILE PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI
  • FILE PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI
  • CONTINUING SALES Retail businesses fall under the limited services list which means they can still sell their products online and over the phone.

According to the San Luis Obispo County website readyslo.org, retail stores are not on the list of essentials, but they are on the county’s list of businesses allowed to provide limited services. Although brick-and-mortar shops aren’t allowed to open to the public, they can sell their products online or via phone call orders, according to the county, which can then be picked up via curbside delivery or mailed to customers.

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Jim Dantona told New Times that the chamber is working closely with the city of SLO, the Downtown SLO Association, and regional chambers to ensure that the entire community continues to prosper.

“We are taking this day-by-day just like everyone else, but are making sure we are getting the most credible, up-to-date information on financial and business resources out there for folks to access,” Dantona said.



He said if a business—essential or not—has questions, the city of SLO created an online form to streamline guidance and ensure that businesses are getting the right information the first time.

In an effort to continue supporting these small businesses, the chamber launched #SmallBusinessSaturday to encourage community members to shop with their favorite local business online, via social media, or over the phone. The chamber’s also calling on the community to leave a review of their preferred businesses or share a photo via social media of their local purchase. The community can also support a local business by buying a gift card for themselves or someone else for later use.

“So there’s a continuum, and right now, where we are in this continuum is OK, we want to have people not completely stop their income. The ones that are able to pivot and do online sales, good for them, we should support them,” Downtown SLO CEO Bettina Swigger said.

Swigger told New Times the current pandemic and its effect on all local businesses is accelerating the conversation about moving brick-and-mortar retail into a more “21st century business environment.” Many brick-and-mortar businesses are now turning to social media and their online websites, if they have one, to reach out to their customers and continue selling their products.

“I think a lot of people are actually doing a lot of shopping online locally, and that’s cool to see,” Swigger said. ∆
—Karen Garcia

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