by Stephen Garner

After months of closure due to the Coronavirus, Fred Segal reopened its iconic Sunset Blvd flagship store in Los Angeles earlier this month.

The retailer originally started a shift to reopening in late May with curbside pick-up, which Fred Segal CEO Allison Samek admits is “obviously not a substitute for the experience someone has shopping inside our store.” But, she says that the store has seen a number of customers who have utilized both its curbside service as well as its concierge business in which the team schedules individual virtual shopping sessions with customers.

But, now that the store is open, the retailer is implementing safety procedures and guidelines to keep staff and customers safe. Among these include requiring all employees and clients to wear face coverings inside the store at all times; provide hand sanitizer for clients; implementing a significantly enhanced cleaning and disinfecting program with a maximum one-hour rotation to clean and disinfect doorknobs, restrooms, and common handles; and the canceling of all in-store events for the foreseeable future. Additional safety precautions include six-foot spacing markers at check out, wayfinding signage throughout the store, and where possible we have even created one-way paths as you tour the store.

Fred Segal Sunset is a huge 13,000 square foot store and feeling too close is rarely ever an issue, but, just in case, Samek says that the store will operate at no more than 30 percent client capacity for the time being and will phase into more as appropriate to county and city health standards.

When asked if she thought Angelenos are ready to come shop again, Samek says, “I think it’s going to be a stepped approach. There are many people who are extremely ready and want to get back out there and spend time doing something that’s relaxing for them. There are others who are simply not ready or comfortable with that idea yet and we absolutely respect that too. For those customers, we will continue with curbside retail and our virtual concierge business.”

She says she is most looking forward to seeing the comradery of the atmosphere in the building once its reopened. “It’s a special store with a special feeling of both fun and friendship,” Samek maintains. “It’s hard to recreate that experience online (although we certainly try) and that’s what we are most looking forward to.”

Samek also tells MR that the store underwent a bit of remodeling while it was closed. “We completely re-did the women’s area and are making major changes to our partners and brands in that section, which I will be able to announce soon. We also shifted our beauty space into what we are calling a ‘chill out’ section – we’ll be showcasing CBD and weed-adjacent lifestyle products including beauty and home.”