Non-essential San Antonio stores open up slightly with “retail-to-go”

Pickup, delivery, and shipping allowed for retail stores beginning Apr. 24

San Antonio – More San Antonio retailers were able to open their doors Friday, if only in the metaphorical sense.

Under the “retail-to-go” idea announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Apr. 17, all non-essential retail stores are able to operate in a limited capacity. Customers still can’t enter the businesses, but pickup, delivery, and shipping of orders are all allowed.

“It feels great,” said Leticia Latoni, the owner of Hemline in Quarry Village. “We’ve been here with our doors closed and all we’ve been doing is trying to get orders from Instagram.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services issued guidance for how businesses are supposed to operate under the new conditions. Employees must be screened before they enter the business, payments should be handled over the phone or internet, and pickup orders should be delivered to customers’ cars whenever possible.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces team to restart the economy, loosens some restrictions

The guidance does not apply to businesses that are considered essential.

In the same shopping center as Hemline, the staff of the jewelry store Kendra Scott prepared for customers to arrive.

“Once we’ve placed the order, we’ll send them a text message and they’ll just be able to drive straight up and then walk it out to them,” said assistant manager Maeloni Mills.

There’s some question of just how far “retail-to-go” can go.

At Hemline, Latoni set up a table outside the front door to display her clothes and jewelry with the hope of attracting customers. They would not be able to touch the items, she said, and transactions would be handled inside.

“It really doesn’t say that we can’t do this,” Latoni said of the state guidance.

She said they are taking precautions to keep customers safe, including wearing masks, which the guidance requires.

Latoni and others KSAT spoke with Friday said their businesses had maintained some type of internet presence during the restrictions. So while the addition of a pickup option may not seem like much of a change, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez said it is a moral victory.

“It helps us start to realize that indeed, things are moving in a positive direction,” Perez said.

Also in Quarry Village, Meg Sutton, the owner of the stationary and gift shop Belle & Union, said the change to allow for retail-to-go doesn’t change much for her. However, even if restrictions were lifted further, she said it’s ultimately on her to make the decision whether it’s okay to open up more.

“So even if the governor or the mayor said, ‘sure, go ahead, open up today.’ I don’t honestly know that I would. I don’t personally feel that it’s time. It’s too soon. So I would rather take the financial hit myself and keep our customers and our staff safe by waiting until it seems better out there,” Sutton said.

Gov. Abbott is scheduled to announce additional steps on Monday to reopen Texas.

Check out this KSAT story for a list of retail stores now operating with retail-to-go options.

These stores, malls in San Antonio are open for retail to-go

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.