When the pandemic first hit last year and it was recommended that people wear masks, it took only a few weeks before the mask-making became a fashion trend. Not only were individuals making masks for first responders in their communities, the masks were cleverly designed in patterns from camouflage to patriotic and paisley to plain black. One year later, masks are still making a fashion statement of sorts, and most stores have plastic-wrapped masks available near the front register. These masks need to be stored or displayed in some way, thus bringing new use to some existing fixtures. COVID-19 also has required special fixtures that have become a staple in a variety of business segments, as stores retrofit to keep customers and employees safe and healthy.
Here are 10 fixtures that have become more commonplace thanks to the virus:
Bins – While large bins filled with product are probably the most disadvantageous for discouraging the virus spread, they are still used for quantities of masks or plastic bottles of hand sanitizer. While bins encourage “digging,” they can successfully be used for quantities of the same item. i.e. masks of all the same size and design or identical bottles of hand soaps.
Slatwall hooks –Also a solution for displaying masks in clear plastic coverings, slatwall hooks can make it easy for customers to see mask selections and touch only the front one. These hooks only work if the mask packaging has a hanger or a hole in the top slide over the hook.
Gondola end-cap shelving – Retailers can create the “pandemic necessities” end cap or location in-store by adding gondola shelving. Items like anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizers, soaps, paper towels and masks can all be placed conveniently within this space. A few packages of toilet paper are also a good bet for this set-up. It can be close to the store exit, so people are less likely to wander.
Splash guards – Acrylic splash guards have become commonplace in nearly every retailer’s store. These serve as a barrier between the customer and the clerk, protecting the clerk from people moving through the line all day. These clear plexiglass units come in standard sizes, or they can be custom cut to fit your needs. Nail salons, grocery stores, convenience stores and clothing shops are among the biggest users.
Acrylic dividers – Used in hair salons, nail salons, retail check-out lanes and even in gyms, acrylic dividers separate “stations” at six-foot intervals. They give the user of the station an area in which to work, while keeping social distancing. In gyms, they are used between treadmills, stationary bicycles and elliptical trainers.
Floor labels and monikers – Generic or custom-made floor stickers to indicate where people should stand in lines are all the rage. Get them made in your store’s colors or with your logo. Take advantage of the opportunity to market in a little-used place – on the floor!
Hands-free soap dispensers/antibacterial dispensers – If you have several places in your facility that require hand-washing, look for the portable hand sanitizer stands. These can be moved around as needed, depending on usage. They can also be easily refilled or replaced with fresh sanitizer. It only makes sense to outfit your rest rooms with no-touch soap dispensers, especially if you have automatic faucets.
Hands-free paper towels – Complete your touch-free restroom with hands-free paper towel machines. These do require the patron to touch the towel they will use, but the dispenser spits out the towel with a sweep of the hand in front of the sensor. Air hand dryers are also an option, but are not the most sought-after solutions.
Anti-bacterial wipe stations – Grocery, big box and warehouse stores all have antibacterial wipes available to wipe down shopping carts. Containers are usually stored on a stand made specifically for the wipes’ container, easily movable and secure.
Thermal stations – Thermometers have certainly seen an uptick in sales, and so have the stations in stores. Many smaller retailers are taking customers’ temperatures upon entry; larger stores are requiring their employees to provide a temperature check when they clock in. Tables or cubbies for this activity make it much more pleasant and give it a friendly atmosphere, as opposed to a regulation check. Unfortunately, when a thermometer reads “normal,” the atmosphere is still anything but normal.