Hiers-Baxley: Businesses working hard to meet customer needs

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Mar 25, 2020

Curbside service isn’t just for dinner anymore. From home goods to hair product to paint to art décor, retailers in The Villages have increasingly turned to the act of loading goods into customers’ cars — or golf carts — as a way to keep business moving amid restrictions in place to deal with the COVID-19 threat. Businesses are rallying in innovative ways to keep serving the community in light of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ instructions for all residents over age 65, and those with underlying health conditions, to shelter at home for the next

14 days. “Life goes on even through a crazy time like this,” said Christine Chaloupka, owner of Lime Light Boutique in Lake Sumter Landing and Christine’s in Brownwood. “There’s still birthdays, there’s still graduations, there’s still babies being born.” President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he hopes to have the country “opened up” by Easter — Sunday, April 12 — his most concrete goal to date for easing off restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, people still need to get hair cuts and cars serviced. Projects that had been on the back burner are getting attention as Villagers spend more time on the home front.

“If people are going to be confined to their homes, a lot of them are going to do projects,” said Daniel Fields, a manager at the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store at Lake Sumter Landing.

By bringing paint and supplies out to customers, he said, it helps keep the number of people inside the store to 10 or fewer in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The limit on group gatherings is affecting businesses nearly across the board, most notably with the loss of dining rooms at restaurants. But also it has forced other proprietors to take a look at their workflow.

“We’re staggering hairdressers, just three or four in one day,” said Annette Frederick, owner of Hair & Nail Creations in Freedom Plaza. “We’ve had to reschedule a lot, but it’s fine with me. It’s keeping my salon under the 10-person level.”

Funeral services

With the new limitations on group gatherings, Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services has joined a number of other facilities in livestreaming services via Facebook or web conferencing.

“It does allow a public ceremony to still take place,” said vice president Justin Baxley. “So far the response has been very positive. Most families realize we’re all in this together.”

One advantage to livestreaming, he added, was that people who may not have been able to travel to The Villages for the service can still attend. One livestream event, he said, drew nearly 200 people to the broadcast.

Families that still want to say goodbye in a larger group can opt to hold a public memorial service in a few months, when the restrictions are lifted.

Hiers-Baxley also started a “Rose in Place” program, in which people can call the funeral home with their condolences and have it attached to a rose that will be placed in the room holding the ceremony.

“It’s a rose in place of physical presence,” said Baxley. “It’s definitely getting a positive response. With livestreaming, it’s a largely empty room. The physical presence of those roses makes it something a little more special.”

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