Madison Avenue merchants are getting ready to reopen — whenever that may happen.
Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, said the luxury merchants on the street are planning to further heighten their personal service in order to lure consumers to their shops when the lockdown is lifted.
In a conversation with Daniel Hodges, chief executive officer of Retail Store Tours, on Tuesday morning, Bauer said the 400-plus businesses operating between 57th and 86th Streets in Manhattan have stayed in constant communication since being forced to close in mid-March through the group’s weekly networking “mixers.”
Bauer said the meetings were moved to a virtual format and initially addressed common issues, including how to pick up their mail, insurance, funding under the CARES Act and other “logistical” problems. But over the last month, he said, the conversation has turned to reopening strategies — “even though that’s a far time away,” he acknowledged.
He said not only has the BID taken on the task of sanitizing the 1.5-mile long stretch of street to prepare for the eventual return of shoppers, but it is also helping storekeepers navigate the government’s requirements for reopening. In phase one, retailers will be allowed to institute curbside pickup and delivery, and once shoppers are allowed inside, stores can only allow half the number of people inside than in pre-coronavirus days, he said. Face coverings and daily health checks will be required for all employees as well.
In a move to add “an extra degree of service” for their customers, some Madison Avenue retailers are already offering free delivery in the local area, he said. Private shopping and shopping by appointment will also be instituted once stores reopen. And any item touched or tried on by a customer will be quarantined for 24 hours or sanitized before being returned to shelves, Bauer added.
The BID’s web site has created a Madison Avenue Now section where retailers can detail the special services they’ve instituted for their businesses. That includes complimentary same-day delivery in New York City from Atelier Cologne and contactless curbside pickup from Frances Valentine.