COLORADO SPRINGS — Many businesses are able to start opening their doors to the public once again, but some shoppers may be nervous about heading to a public place. However, with lots of limitations on those shops, and Social Distance Saturdays providing a private shopping experience, many customers may have their minds set at ease.
Social Distance Saturdays are a chance for shoppers to support their local art retailers, while also getting the entire store to themselves. To do so, one must pay $45, and can then spend 20 minutes at up to five different locations. The payment also includes hand sanitizer and a face mask, which customers are required to wear. Retailers also clean anything touched by a previous guest before the next one enters.
News5 had the chance to watch one of these private tours at Art 111, which showcases work from Colorado artists, the majority of whom live in Colorado Springs. Art 111 had five different tours come through on Saturday, one of which included Bob White. "It's nice to have things back on our calendar today... The things that you used to take for granted, you miss it. You miss those things that were familiar to you, so it's been fun," said White, who has lived in Colorado Springs since 1982.
Surprisingly, the Manager and Curator for Art 111, Robin Schneider, said they have actually done better with their sales in April 2020 when compared to April 2019. Right now, their gallery side of the store is open with limitations, and their retail side is still closed. Despite the positive sales trend, Schneider still said it's helpful to have these private tours. "If you're a self-employed artist, you can't collect unemployment, you can't do any of that... When you fall in love with a piece of art, it's usually not something you've seen online. It's usually something you come in, and you're like, 'wow, that is amazing,'" said Schneider.
Another store participating in Social Distance Saturdays is Eclectic CO., which is a local makers market housing about 55 artisans and curators. The shop had three people confirmed for the private shopping experiences, but more people ended up coming in than that. "Because people saw that others were inside, we had about four or five other people that we said, yeah, absolutely, as soon as the private shoppers are done, come on in. And so yeah, we had a steady stream all day, it was really great," said Owner Peri Bolts.
Eclectic CO. said they can schedule private shopping experiences any day of the week through their social media accounts. Even though Bolts said their sales have been slashed, she said the community has really supported them during this time. "We miss our customers so much. We have the best customers, the best support system, and we just miss being able to see everybody. So, a few of the people that had private appointments today are regulars of ours, it was so good to see them," said Bolts.
Registration for Social Distance Saturdays is per party, not per person. The money raised goes to the participating art retailers.