Sometimes You Water the Plants to Make it Rain

As soon as we posted our “No big update today” message, we had a sneaking suspicion something was going to change. Admittedly, it’s challenging to write posts like this because they can come very close to violating one of our operating principles: keeping politics out of the shoppe. 

As many of you have read or heard, Governor Kemp issued a new executive order on Monday. It is a follow-on order to the ones issued in late-March which led to our decision to close most in-store operations.

Both this, and the March orders allowed Meeple Madness to continue Minimum Basic Operations. For those that haven’t read the order, it says “Such minimum necessary activities include remaining open to the public subject to the restrictions of this order.” The main difference between the March order and Monday’s is that it allows other categories of businesses, like gyms, and bowling alleys, to participate in Minimum Basic Operations. Previous orders had explicitly closed those businesses.

You may ask then, why did we close public access? In March, when we first started modifying our business experience, we wrote “While the state’s measures do not specifically address our business we feel that, in the spirit of the law, we need to further restrict access in our shoppe.”  

In short, we appreciate when a government gives us the freedom to make wise choices for our business. But that freedom is only interesting if we actually ponder the opportunities and figure out what, in our estimation, is the wise thing to do.

Which brings us to today. Here are the basic facts at play for us:

1. We can open our business following the restrictions outlined by the State.
2. Our guests are still under a Shelter in Place order until April 30th at midnight.
3. We’ve invested in some store infrastructure projects that are still incomplete.

Restrictions Outlined by the State

There are twenty restrictions outlined in the executive order. We won’t review all of them, but we do want to share two that present unique challenges for us.

“Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;”

This is pretty straight forward on the surface. However, finding a source of PPE is rather challenging right now. While cloth masks are becoming a popular solution for many people it’s unclear if, as a business, it’s a wise solution for us to implement for our staff. Efficacy debates aside, the reality is that someone wearing a mask on a six to eight hour shift would need to replace it frequently, and storing and washing used masks is problematic in a shoppe like ours.

Additionally, we’re running low on hand sanitizer, and getting refills for our dispensers is a challenge as those items are currently for sale only to first responders. We’re hopeful those restrictions will lift soon, once supply catches up with demand.

“Enforcing social distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on such entity’s leased or owned property;”

Loosely translated – if a family comes in and wants to sit together at a table and play a game they just bought, that’s legally permitted. If four friends from different households meet in the parking lot and walk in together, we’re legally obligated to keep them six feet apart from each other while they are in our shoppe, even if they’re just browsing for a purchase.

We’re still trying to determine how best to manage that aspect of the order both from a safety perspective and pragmatically.  We certainly aren’t in a position to confirm addresses and housing situations for every guest that walks into the shoppe so we have to figure out a responsible approach to that restriction.

Shelter In Place

As we noodle through the two restrictions above, the other aspect to consider is that our guests are currently under a “shelter in place” order that doesn’t expire until the end of the month. That applies to our staff as well. While our staff are happy to come back to the shoppe and engage with our guests again, we do not want to put them in a position of having to make the choice between showing up to our shoppe or following legal orders.

Investments

The final consideration is the state of the shoppe. We made decisions to adjust for The New Normal, with the idea of reopening on May 1st, when the Shelter In Place order was lifted. Because of that, several parts of the shoppe are currently dismantled as we wait on a few fixtures, deep clean, and generally prepare the shoppe for guests. Opening today, would just be inviting customers into a rather unkempt space which is definitely not our style.

So What’s the Verdict?

We know many shoppes are poised to reopen immediately, and we might seem overly cautious by remaining closed for a few more days. That being said, we have a plan in place to be ready on May 1st and we believe our wisest course of action is to remain on that schedule.

What Will “Open” Look Like?

Of course, May 1st still has the above restrictions in place. So what will “Open” really look like? We’ll continue to offer a curbside experience for those that wish to remain out of the shoppe. We will also continue to offer delivery options, but those will be reduced to a more manageable area around the shoppe. The smaller delivery area is necessary because we will have less time to do deliveries when we’re back to longer hours at the shoppe. 

We’re still mapping things out, but if we can figure out how to confirm “cohabitating persons” with non-invasive integrity, we’ll allow a small number of our tables to be available. We’ll also have the Apothecary room available for rental but, again, it will be limited to “cohabitating persons” with an occupancy of less than six people.

We’ll also need to limit the number of people in the shoppe, so you’re likely to see a staffer sitting near the front door, managing attendees. For folks that travel a bit to reach our shoppe, we’ll also be offering the ability to reserve a “Fast Pass” through our website, so you can book an appointment to ensure when you arrive you can get in promptly. 

Since the bulk of the game tables will be offline, we’ll also be limiting our hours, closing at 9:00 pm each evening.

All of this, of course, is subject to change – we’ll provide more details along the way, and keep you informed as best we can.

Got a Question?

As things continue to evolve, we are doing our best to be as transparent as possible. We miss having everyone at the shoppe, playing games, and having fun. While we know May 1st seems far away right now, we’re looking forward to seeing a few of your smiling faces back in the shoppe at the start of the month. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please let us know.

David, Priya, and the Meeple Madness Team