HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Non-essential businesses are closed across the state and its impacting consumers, employers, and employees. Local businesses like Fleet Feet in Huntsville are making adjustments to be able to operate within the new health regulations.
“Our sales, in the beginning, were down 90 to 95 percent which is not sustainable,” said Fleet Feet Owner Dink Taylor.
Taylor said the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on their business, and they are doing everything they can to stay afloat.
“The Jones Valley Shopping Center still expects us to pay our rent on time,” said Taylor.
Taylor said their team made adjustments before the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses.
“On a busy Saturday, we have 50 to 75 people in the store at a time. We were handing them shoes instead of putting them on their feet and using a lot of hand sanitizers and things like that… just three weeks ago,” said Taylor.
He said his employees didn’t feel safe, so they opted to close two weeks before Governor Kay Ivey made it mandatory. They’ve offered curbside pickup since.
“You pull up and you call and say ‘hey I’m here.’ We have somebody bring it out to you and put it in the trunk of your car. There’s no contact,” said Taylor.
He said business at Fleet Feet has slowed significantly. They only have nine people working and had to furlough 33 employees. He said he paid employees the past two weeks, even though they weren’t working, but they won’t be able to keep that up.
“My wife is the co-owner… You don’t think she was crying every single day leading up to that..?” said Taylor.
Taylor said Fleet Feet has been in the community for over 16 years and thankfully they are getting some support from regular customers.
“Some people just feel sorry for us. They know we’re not doing any business. I had a guy call and say ‘what do you have in a men’s size 13?’ He did even really care what he was getting, and he bought a couple of shoes just to support the store,” said Taylor.
Taylor said while there are more people getting active during this time of social distancing…
“I’ve seen more people on greenways and trails on Monte Sano than I’ve seen in years,” said Taylor.
It’s hard to gain new customers because there is no try ons, returns, or anyone allowed in the store.
Fleet Feet said they are in the groove already. They saw the potential health risks and transitioned to curbside pickup two weeks ahead of the state’s mandatory closure.