The warm breezes and brilliant sunshine that coated our area’s landscape yesterday was a comforting sign for just about anyone with a green thumb ready to dig into the spring soil.
At Van Atta’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop, preparations began last Friday to reopen retail sales to the public when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer relaxed restrictions to allow landscapers, lawn-service companies, and flower and plant nurseries to resume operating.
Lisa Bashline, sales manager at Van Atta’s, said her team plans to open the doors to the store at 9 a.m. today with safety limitations in place.
“We’ve been preparing safety-wise since the governor issued the update last week,” Bashline said. “However, we are limiting the number of people that come in the store at a time. We are requiring – above the governor’s order – that all customers must wear a face covering while shopping inside or out.” (The current order requires face coverings inside enclosed public spaces.)
“If a customer is unable to wear a face covering, due to a medical condition, we have delivery and curbside otions available,” Bashline added. “We are not making exceptions for people coming into the property.”
Under the governor’s latest orders, big-box retailers such as Home Depot, Meijer and Menard’s can also resume selling garden supplies, as they no longer have to close off garden centers, and retailers of every type “that do not sell necessary supplies may reopen for curbside pick-up and for delivery.”
Van Atta’s, like many small businesses in the area, has not had any sales for the past month. Bashline said most of the staff was laid off in mid-March following the governor’s emergency order. Some staff were able to work from home, and some were able to help out by watering or taking care of the plants.
“We opened for curbside service on Saturday,” Bashline said, “so we’re eager to begin safely selling our products again.”
Baylee Seward, sales representative at Hammond Farms, said the landscape supply company with stores in DeWitt, Dimondale and East Lansing, is open only for pick-up and delivery of its products.
“Customers can order online and over the phone but we cannot have any contact with them in store,” Seward said Tuesday. “We’ve had three (phone) lines open since Friday and they’ve been lit up with calls.”
Bashline asked the customers heading to Van Atta’s this weekend to be patient as staff tries to ensure the safety of everyone on the grounds.
“Please be prepared to wait” if it’s crowded, Bashline said. “We are going to limit the number of people who come in … for the customers’ safety, and for our own staff’s safety.”
“We’re not exactly sure how it’s going to look,” she added. “May weekends at a garden center can be quite busy, and we want to make sure everyone is safe.”
Van Atta’s plan to be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in May, with senior hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m. beginning May 4.
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