The Return of Retail: Steps for a Safe Reopening

May 12, 2020

From the Desk of the COO

Well, here we are. Today marks the official reopening date of retail stores across the state of Ohio, with restaurants following closely behind this Friday, May 15th for outdoor seating and Thursday, May 21st for indoor seating. In the immortal words of the Grateful Dead, “what a long, strange trip it’s been”.

The road that led us here has been a bumpy one to put it lightly. Not only have we been adjusting to working from home, but we have also been doing so while attempting to navigate an unprecedented set of obstacles for our company, our employees, our investors, our tenants, our partners, and so much more. It has been an unbelievably challenging period – and it will continue to be so for some time – but we are working our hardest to forge ahead and play our part in the ongoing recovery process.

We are proud to have helped pass a crucial piece of state legislation which gave small businesses a 90-day forbearance on rent payments to afford them some breathing room as they worked to reestablish a foothold on company operations. We’re also happy to have hosted some popular (perhaps a little too popular) community events that helped spread some positivity to families during this difficult time. However, what we are currently working on is by far our most important undertaking … ensuring the health and safety of everyone who lives, works, or visits our properties.

Over the past few weeks we have engaged every single employee here at Stark Enterprises to explore all aspects of how to safely continue operations in a world still very much dealing with the unforgiving spread of COVID-19. Using the Responsible Restart Ohio plan as our guide we have put together extensive plans and procedures to help everyone safely visit our properties. It’s definitely not business as usual, but we hope our efforts will help bolster companies who have been hit hard by this shutdown while also providing our community with a safe, secure shopping, dining, and entertaining experience.

Guests visiting our properties will notice many changes. We have installed special hand sanitizing stations throughout our properties and have set a regular, thorough cleaning schedule of common and high-touchpoint areas. We are adding social distancing markers throughout our shopping centers and are creating smart entry/exit doorways and one-way lanes to eliminate unnecessary contact. We will be limiting indoor public spaces like elevators and bathrooms to a maximum capacity of two people. We are also strictly enforcing that all employees wear masks, and strongly recommend all guests to wear personal protective equipment while visiting our properties.

While we are confident that we have done our very best to create a healthy and safe environment, we know that this will be an ongoing process. Much like the road that led us here, the one ahead is still very bumpy. However, we are dedicated to helping figure this out with our community by our side and on our mind every step of the way. Providing a safe experience is our biggest priority. On behalf of myself, my father, and the rest of the company, rest assured that Stark Enterprises Cares.

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Ezra Stark, Chief Operating Officer