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The Reopening Of Nonessential Retailers Is Beginning With 'Dark Stores' In 2 States

Two states have modified their shelter-in-place orders to allow nonessential retailers to reopen as "dark stores," which make sales via drive-thru, curbside pickup or delivery.


In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that allows those options at retail stores "that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19" beginning on Friday, meaning most retail. Still closed in Texas are the dine-in portion of restaurants and bars, gyms, massage parlors, tattoo and piercing studios and beauty parlors.

Abbott also established a "Strike Force to Open Texas," a body of medical experts and business executives to advise him on reopening the state economy. A number of retail and restaurant executives are on the committee, including Landry's Chairman Tilman Fertitta, Gallery Furniture owner Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale and Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Restaurants owner Balous Miller.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued an executive order on Friday allowing nonessential retailers to sell goods via drive-thru, curbside pickup and delivery.

Reeves said that the order not only would help smaller retailers, but that it would reduce crowding in big-box stores such as Walmart or Target, whose business has expanded during the pandemic.

"Everyone is crowding big-box retailers," Reeves said in a press conference, as reported by Business Insider. "If we can allow Mississippi's small businesses to do sales in a safe way, we can get some of those people out of the Walmart." 

Though always allowed to be open as essential businesses, a few grocery stores nationwide have been converted to dark stores that are only serving online orders. Kroger has done so at a store in Cincinnati, and Giant Eager and Stop & Shop have at a number of stores, Multi Channel Merchant reports.

Amazon's Whole Foods Market also has opened a few pickup-only locations, and has expanded its grocery pickup from about 80 standard stores to more than 150 in recent weeks. The company says it will continue to expand grocery pickup.