Columbia Sportswear Company said it was reopening 30 Columbia branded stores in 10 states on Friday, bringing back more than 250 of its furloughed retail workers.
The company said all stores will prioritize a safe environment for customers and employees. Among steps being taken are requiring face coverings for employees, adjusting store layouts for social distancing and delaying the restocking of clothes tried on in fitting rooms for 24 hours. In addition, employees will regularly clean high-touch area and cashiers will wear gloves.
Retailers around the country have started to reopen stores after most had been closed for the past two months under state-led mandates to stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect the public.
Friday’s reopenings followed the first restart of a Columbia-branded store in Nebraska the previous week, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to shutter its stores across the U.S. and the world in March. The company’s e-commerce business has continued to operate, and its U.S. distribution centers and call center have largely remained operational throughout the period to serve the growing online business at Columbia.com, as well as the company’s other brands: mountainhardwear.com, sorel.com, and prana.com.
“We are excited to be opening our stores, helping our consumers gear up to head outdoors and welcoming our retail employees back to work,” Tim Boyle, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said. “I want to thank our distribution center and call center employees who came to work every day under difficult circumstances. We could not have kept our online business working without them.”
Columbia said it is also mindful of the hardships and burdens COVID-19 placed on individuals and communities. As the company opens its stores, it will launch a checkout charity campaign to help fund relief efforts in the communities where it operates. The campaign is part of the firm’s ongoing community outreach, which also included giving outdoor clothing to frontline staff at Providence Health and other select healthcare organizations in 10 states and Washington, D.C.
The company delivered Columbia rain and fleece jackets, along with cold-weather gear from Mountain Hardwear, to healthcare workers in several states. The gear will help keep frontline workers protected from the weather as they support drive-through testing sites and other essential work for their communities.
The company expects to continue opening its U.S. stores during the coming months with guidance from state and local authorities and communities, after ensuring that stringent health and safety standards can be met.
“We still have a long way to go with COVID-19,” Boyle said. “Opening stores, enjoying the great outdoors and helping each other shows there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we are truly tougher together.”