Malls, retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters sprawled across Texas were allowed to reopen on May 1, for the first time since March 31, when Gov. Greg Abbott told residents to stay home. That included Saks Fifth Avenue, whose Houston and San Antonio shops are the retailer’s only locations in the United States to resume normal business, as of Monday.
When Delia Hickman (@mommalovesfashionblog) got an email about the Saks reopening in San Antonio, and detailing the store’s new safety plan, she didn’t think twice.
“I thought, ‘I’m in,’” she said.
As retailers test the waters of reopening, gauging whether people are ready to shop again — and shop in a more clinical, alien way than ever before — this response is their best-case scenario. After driving to North Star Mall, Ms. Hickman was surprised, she said, to find many other stores still closed; she’d wanted to pop into H & M and make returns at Zara while she was there.
The following was condensed and edited for clarity.
Why did you decide to go shopping on Friday?
Like a lot of people, I’ve been shopping online lately — what else do I do for fun right now, other than cook and watch TV and go running? I was ready. Plus, I was ready to get a break from my kids.
Were you nervous about going out?
A little bit of me was like, “What if …?” But 95 percent of me was not afraid. When I got there, I was even less afraid.
Was the store busy?
My day to go to Saks is usually Friday. That’s my free day, when I give myself the opportunity to go out. I’m there maybe every other week. Usually I walk in when the store is opening at 10 a.m., and there’s nobody there.
This time it opened at 11, and I was there around 11:15. It was a shocker to me: When I walked in, there were more people than I usually see on a normal day. Five people were right inside the entrance, all wearing masks.
I thought, “Are people tired of being locked up and everyone just came here?”
What kind of changes did you notice right away?
All the employees were wearing masks, and there was hand sanitizer all over the place.
What was the atmosphere like inside the store?
It was like watching people be reunited after a long time apart. All I could see was employees saying hi and being really excited to be greeting each other. They were coming up to me, too. Everyone was really joyful.
Were you shopping for anything specific?
I went to the Chanel counter — I wanted to get some Chanel eye patches.
The lady there showed me how the eye patches work. She was wearing gloves and a mask. She unlocked the serum, and when I reached out to try some, she said she couldn’t touch me. That was totally fine. I totally respected it. I remembered, Oh yeah, of course. She was wearing glasses, but she showed me the motion of putting it on under her eyes.
No one seemed to be like “get away from me” when I walked next to them. That’s what I’ve encountered at grocery stores.
Were you touching items as you browsed?
I did touch a Prada handbag. I was trying it on, looking at myself in the mirror, and no one really cared. I tried some shoes on, and someone asked if I needed help. I said no. They were not weird about me touching anything.
How was the fitting room?
It was very normal. I was at the store for like two hours, and most of that time I was in the dressing room, trying a thousand things on. I ended up buying some things from Alice + Olivia and a Tanya Taylor blazer.
Did you notice anything different at the cash registers?
No. I just put my card in the machine like I usually do.
Did you feel comfortable at the store, in general?
I was very comfortable. I felt free and happy to go out — finally. I’ve been staying home and only going to the grocery store. I ordered myself an Alice + Olivia mask, and I do wear it. But I’ve really never felt scared.
So will you keep going back on Fridays?
Definitely. I have friends who were like, “You went shopping?!” And I’m like: “Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go when you feel secure.”
My personal opinion is that people should just do it. Just go and shop — at least the people who want to and love shopping. Everybody there was clean and wearing masks and very respectful.