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Reopening our Stores in Texas

 

Update as of 6/11: We will be closed on June 19 in honor of Juneteenth.

Look, for those of you who want to spare yourselves a self-indulgent essay on the past few months, I’ll level with you:

  • We’re reopening our Legacy West and South Congress locations on June 8, 2020 at 11 a.m. CT, roughly 80 days since their initial closures.
  • We’re proud to feature the same amazing line-up of brands, with many more on the way, in addition to our restaurants reopening for dining.
  • And, of course, we’ve implemented a huge amount of policies and procedures to support a safe and healthy shopping environment for our team and our customers, as well. Learn more on our new Health & Safety page.

For those you looking for a little more context, I suppose I’d begin with March 13, 2020. On that day, we opened our South Congress location to the public. In some respects, there was cause for celebration: we were opening on schedule! We had over 50 brands, far more than planned, in the store!

At the same time, the proliferation of COVID-19 in the US was gaining pace. We’d already closed our office, reduced our store hours, and we were beginning to contemplate closing the stores in the spirit of public health and safety.

March 13, you see, was meant to be the first day of SXSW in Austin. We’d developed an unbelievable line-up of launch events and collaborations. But, like SXSW itself, we quickly scaled back and cancelled all of the messaging, events, and otherwise.

By the time we opened the store, our marketing plan had been reduced to an acknowledgement that the store was open. But we didn’t send any email and we held back on any fanfare.

Nonetheless, a lot of people showed up. That evening, we had some drinks, as a team, and talked about it being surprising, but, perhaps not encouraging. When it happened the following morning, however, the conversation quickly shifted to concern.

We saw transactions flowing in New York and Plano, while our South Congress store was busy.

Patti (our SVP of Operations), Ashley (our Chief of Staff), and I went to lunch. As we sat there, we decided that we had to close. It was clear that traffic was going to continue to gather in our stores. And it began to feel like our civic duty to respond.

So, on March 14, I found myself typing a statement on my phone:

To our Neighbors,

We’ve always strived to have community at the heart of everything we do. And that continues to be the case. But, for the near future, that won’t be within the walls of our stores.

Today, we’ve made the decision to temporarily close all three of our stores, effective this evening at 7 p.m. We hope to reopen on March 27.

Here I am, writing a note to our Neighbors once again, roughly 75 days later.

In the time since, we’ve been forced to make some tough decisions. But we also embraced as much optimism as we could muster, manifesting in the launch of some amazing editorials, new brands online, a not-for-profit initiative (!), and an all-new website. Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, we also took the time to overhaul our day-to-day systems, policies, and procedures.

The result was that our digital performance skyrocketed, while we really honed many of our core disciplines, as a company, to prepare for the future. We took it as a rare chance for a moment of pause — to do some housekeeping around this unwieldy idea of ours — and to look ahead with cautious hope.

With all of that now behind us and supporting us, we’re ready to begin the process of reopening.

I am, and we are, pleased to announce that we’ll be reopening our Legacy West and South Congress stores at 11 a.m. on June 3, 2020, roughly 80 days after they initially closed.

It’s worth noting at this juncture that, although we’ve legally been able to reopen since the beginning of May, we opted not to do so. Legality and permission, given the global health crisis, have only so much to do with our civic duty. We must all take on further weight and burden to ensure we are as cautious, protective, and thoughtful as possible during such a sensitive time.

Noting declines in cases in recent weeks in the vicinity of these locations, we’ve felt increasingly comfortable with the prospect of reopening, as have our partners, team members, and beyond. It’s worth emphasizing that, although we’re excited to open now, we will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and will be absolutely prepared to close again in future, as needed.

For the openings, we did not take the decision lightly. We will be implementing stringent cleaning and safety protocols, as well as maintaining the reduced hours we’d adopted in early March to protect the well-being of our teams.

From a high-level:

  • We will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT. This allows us to limit our teams to one shift per day and allow us to schedule the teams to avoid overlapping too much.
  • Our staff will be required to wear masks at all times and wash their hands frequently, as well as participate in contactless temperature checks in the morning. We are, as always, asking employees feeling unwell to remain home and backing this up with a comprehensive paid time-off policy to ensure there’s no concern over job security in doing so.
  • Surfaces will be cleaned with extreme frequency throughout the day, while we’ll also be reducing entrances at each location to one. A member of staff will be stationed to ensure social distancing is observed and the doors are frequently cleaned.
  • We will be limiting the capacity of our stores to 50%. We are fortunate to have large stores in Texas, so this ought to feel particularly open and freeing. Nonetheless, we’ve also modified the layout of both locations to maximize open spaces and avoid any bottlenecks. We’re also introducing vinyls to promote social distancing throughout the stores.
  • We won’t be allowing any apparel try-ons for the moment. We are allowing shoe fittings. Products returned or tried on will be quarantined for a minimum of 24-48 hours after the fact, as well.
  • Our restaurants will be open for business, but seating will be spread apart to ensure distancing occurs. We’ll also be exercising the same health and safety efforts with this team to ensure the experience is safe, clean, and comfortable.
  • Disposable masks will be made available to visitors, as needed. We will also have contactless sanitizing stations, as well as improved contactless soap and towel dispensers in our bathrooms.

As some additional provisions, we are introducing the ability to live chat through our website with our in-store staff. You’ll have the ability to go through video calls to see products on our site, as well as having any of your questions regarding your purchases, our brands, or our stores answered in real-time. So, if you’re not wanting to rush into the stores, you can catch-up with our team from a distance for a more personal touch on our website.

Meanwhile, we will, of course, continue to offer curbside and store pickup, as well as same-day delivery, as well. Free domestic shipping and returns will be available, as well.

Our app has taken a brief developmental hiatus and will return in June or July. We’re excited for it to return in a much faster and more streamlined form, allowing you to self-checkout, request help, and, generally, shop on you own terms in-store.

In terms of brands and products, I’m pleased to share that, of our 100+ brands, all of them, with the exception of one or two, will be available in-store at launch and beyond. So, at Legacy West, you’ll be able to shop Rothy’s, Atoms, Faherty, Hill City, UpWest, TASCHEN, and the like, as always, while at South Congress you’ll be able to shop Entireworld, Aesop, La Ligne, Food52, Modern Citizen, and more, too. See our full and current list of brands here.

We’re also excited to unveil the first class of The Commons in our Plano and Austin stores in June. As a quick refresher, we’re offering free space to brands, artists, musicians, and restaurateurs who’ve lost business due to COVID-19. We’ve been thrilled with the response and will be launching 10-15 brands per location as part of the initial class with many, many more to come. We’re going to let the locations open and find their feet for a few days before introducing these brands and this push — we want to ensure it’s safe and comfortable first! — but it’s going to be an exciting mix. Keep an eye on our social channels for more information.

As a quick word on New York, we are hoping to resume operation of our Chelsea Market location to begin facilitating same-day delivery, curbside, and domestic shipping in June. We do not have a definitive plan for reopening to the public, but, as a general rule of thumb, don’t expect us to be a part of the first wave of openings. We’ll take our time.

Before wrapping-up with some forward-looking messaging, I must emphasize that we’re prepared to close our stores again over the coming months as and when needed. We were proud to close promptly on March 14. We’ll certainly do the same again in future, if we must.

For the moment, though, we cannot wait to welcome you — and our teams! — back to our spaces over the coming days.

We’ve always believed in allowing the customer to dictate their own terms as to how they shop with us. So, it’s been thrilling to see our curbside and same-day initiatives be so well-received. Now, as it was originally devised, we’re excited to see the whole ecosystem operate in harmony.

Our stores have an unbelievable mix of brands. The physical world is where you’ll enjoy them and, more often than not, it’s the physical world in which you can get the best sense for them. That element of discovery and familiarity is feasible online — we’re working to do more of it ourselves! — but a special, well-curated physical space never loses its luster when done properly.

With that spirit in mind, we’re looking forward to reigniting that feeling in a cautious, safe, and well-prepared manner. You’ll be able to shop an unparalleled line-up in a healthy way, whilst enjoying all the perks of a digitally-informed ecosystem.

And that’s not to mention the exclusives, collaborations, and new brands to introduce, while we’ve also been developing a lot of new initiatives over the past couple of months. We cannot wait to share it all with you over the coming weeks and months.

We’ve setup a permanent Health & Safety policy page to keep track of our in-store initiatives. We’ll update it from time-to-time and, as always, if you have any further ideas, please feel free to reach out to hello@neighborhoodgoods.com with any suggestions.

See you soon, Neighbors!