Although the Ontario government has allowed retail stores to open up for curbside pickup and delivery options, many Toronto shop owners say the new rules don’t change their practices.
That, they say, is because either they were already partaking in curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic, or their circumstances don’t allow them to take advantage of the option.
Tom Mihalik’s suit store in Kensington Market, Tom’s Place, hasn’t sold a single suit in about two months. The curbside pickup option, he says, isn’t going to change that.
“It will not help our business,” said Mihalik.
“It’s hard to sell a suit without really allowing them (customers) to try it on, so … in order for our business to improve, we must allow the customers to come in.”
Mihalik adds that while other suit stores have asked customers to send in their suit measurements, he believes those numbers aren’t always accurate and the material needs to be measured with the customer present.
“It’s very difficult because sometimes they say the measuring lies, the measuring tape lies — it doesn’t always give the exact measurements of a person,” Mihalik said.
Other store owners haven’t been able to take advantage of the curbside pickup delivery option and open shop because they have to take care of their kids.
“It’s still not an option for us until we have an option for childcare,” said North Standard Trading Post co-owner Pam Hopson.
Hopson adds that they’re still able to ship their clothing items across the country for a fee and offer free local deliveries, but working out of the storefront isn’t a viable option with a two-year-old in tow.
Many businesses also told Global News that news of retail stores being allowed to offer curbside pickup to customers only brought on confusion — because they’d been open and offering curbside pickup since the pandemic began.
“We were confused because we had been doing curbside pickup since the first week, so it doesn’t change a thing,” said Boa Boutique owner Daphne Nissani.
Nissani adds that some business owners have been selling their product through a social media auction on Instagram Live.
People showcase some of the clothing items during the broadcast and viewers bid on them until a final price is reached.
“It’s been working great. I think everyone has been really easy to work with and so kind, so it’s made the process really easy for us,” Nissani said.
But there are those business owners who only started curbside pickup once the province gave the go-ahead, and they’re optimistic.
Kaela Malozewski co-owns Common People Shop, a general store that sells curated goods, and believes her sales will go up now that people can pick up their goods instead of having them mailed.
“For people that are very local, very close by, to not have to pay that extra fee — and if they need something small, they can just come and grab it and then go — I think that will definitely bring a little more incentive want to come shop with us,” Malozewski said.