Beverly Hills’ retail market showed signs of coming back to life this week as many of the 200 local businesses that qualified to reopen for curbside pick-up did just that on May 8. In addition to Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing clothing stores and other specified industries to open with meaningful modifications last Friday, on May 13 the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that all retailers not located in an indoor mall or shopping center could reopen for curbside, door-side, outside pick-up or delivery.
“It’s exciting,” Beverly Hills Marketing and Economic Sustainability Manager Laura Biery told the Courier. “To really see that retail appetite come back, that ability to pick it up same day is really exciting. That is a welcome site.”
While pedestrian activity on Rodeo Drive still remains light and most of the people using curbside pick-up are choosing to make use of the alley ways, on Tuesday there was a steady stream of cars waiting along Dayton Way for Louis Vuitton parcels to be safely placed inside trunks via white-gloved employees. And just four days after opening, nearly all of the window displays had been set up once again and the store interiors remerchandised. Other areas of the City have similarly reopened with refreshed window displays and signage alerting patrons to the pick-up process.
“We’re doing what we can, but at the same time we’re staying safe,” Nicola Cagliata, Rodeo Drive Committee President and Regional Manager for Jaeger Le Coultre, told the Courier. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction. There’s a lot of excitement. A lot of the stores are organizing. Clients are calling in orders and preparing to pick-up.”
Among the keys to prosperity in the future, according to Kathy Gohari, general manager of Valentino and past president of the Rodeo Drive Committee, will be the ability of people to get creative.
“I think this is a great time for brands to find ways to recreate themselves. I think what it gives us, is an opportunity to learn from these past couple of months and be able to do things better. It allows us all to be more creative and think outside of the box,” she told the Courier.
Gohari, who has worked at Valentino for 18 years, emphasized that much of the luxury retail market is about relationships.
“Believe it or not, I think with a certain group, [our relationships have] gotten stronger,” she said. “We check on each other. It’s almost like a family member where we care about each other and we check on each other and if we don’t hear from each other we get concerned.”
Opening just in time for Mother’s Day this past Sunday proved a real boon for local flower shops and shoppers in need of the perfect gift.
Just hours after reopening, Twigs and Thyme owner Nancy Ohanessian said the telephone wouldn’t stop ringing with people calling in orders for curbside pick-up or delivery.
“We love it. We’re finally out of the house,” she told the Courier. “The phones are off the hook and we can’t even answer them fast enough.”
“We’re so happy to be open that we could boost people’s morale and spirits during this unfortunate period that we’re going through,” Muguet Florist owner Mehdi Arya told the Courier.
As the state continues to allow more specific industries to reopen, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will subsequently determine how that will happen and when it will take place. In anticipation of the phased reopening continuing, Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Johnson underscored how important it was to rebuild the community together as a team.
“The Chamber welcomes a limited reopening of some businesses in Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills in particular,” he told the Courier. “We are looking forward to working with the business community during this process and into the future stages of recovery from this crisis.”
Marketing and Economic Sustainability Manager Laura Biery said that businesses were actively reaching out to the City for guidance on how to best open safely and learn what protocols need to be in place.
“Our business community wants to reopen, but they want to reopen safely,” she said. “This is a brand new experience for everyone. None of us has lived through a global pandemic before.”
Not everyone is completely enthused with the protocols now in place, however. “It’s useless. Curbside pick-up is the same things as online ordering,” Harry Harris Shoes owner Andy Harris told the Courier. The children’s shoe store has been in its same location on North Canon Drive for 72 years. “The optics of curbside service for the essence of a symbolic gesture doesn’t do any good.”