Fairhope retail businesses face challenges in virus crisis

Coronavirus

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — This weekend was supposed to be one of the biggest shopping times for the Eastern Shore. The now-canceled Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival means a lot of businesses have extra inventory at a time when people are hesitant to shop.

Employees usually roll out the red carpet at Fantasy Island Toys in Fairhope, this was supposed to be the weekend they began celebrating their 45th anniversary. Now with a giant festival disappearing — and extra merch to sell — it’s a tough time.

“It’s a little scary, but we’re going to be here as long as we can to provide play and a resource for parents to stay sane while the kids are out of school,” said manager Ann. Fantasy Island Toys is one of a number of businesses facing a difficult time

“For retailers, the lack of traffic is hugely impacting their business,” said Casey Williams with the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. They have to get creative, like highlighting online ordering for home delivery or curbside pickup.

“So you can just drive up out front we’re happy to pop the bag in your trunk, you don’t have to touch,” said owner Ginger Milligan with a smile. They clean every surface they find, and changes include keeping older and immunocompromised workers at home, and fewer demo toys on the floor. These are challenges, but they are not impossible.

“We’ve lived through many a hurricane, I realize this has a longer impact. We lived through 2010 BP oil spill a lot of people don’t remember that it was very depressing,” said Milligan.

Other businesses emphasize cleanliness and social distancing to tamp down the fear and turn up the fun.

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