Renys, the family department store chain with headquarters in Newcastle, closed its 17 stores in mid-March due to coronavirus precautions. Now, the retailer has started a curbside pickup program.
“We are getting back to business,” John Reny said.
Every store except the Bath location, now under renovation, offers the new pickup service, including both stores in downtown Damariscotta.
“We kind of started it as a trial run a couple of weeks ago to see if it would work and it came out alright, so we decided to go ahead with it,” Reny said. He said the program started to build steam Saturday, April 18.
“We figured we had to do something. We have things people need and want, and we want to sell those to them. Regularly we have people who come in every other day or every week to get things only we have or items we offer at lower prices,” Reny said.
Employees maintain physical distancing and leave items for customers to pick up in order to limit contact throughout the process.
The company is working on a catalog of items available through the pickup program. “People will be able to see what we have, call the store, and pick it up,” he said.
For now, shoppers can see photos of each store’s inventory on the Renys website.
Customers “call the store and tell management what they want. The employee will write it down and try to find it, unless it is one thing they can check without hanging up. Then we will call them back and let them know what we have (and) add if there are other options available in terms of what the customer is looking for,” Reny said.
Customers then provide payment information, the store processes the transaction, and the item is made available for pickup.
For the Damariscotta stores, orders are available for pickup near the rear entrance of Renys Underground, off the municipal parking lot.
According to the company’s website, shoppers can call stores from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Saturday. The website asks customers to limit orders to 20 items. They can pay by credit card, house charge, or Renys gift card.
Returns and exchanges are not allowed during the curbside pickup program. For more information, call 563-3177 or email email@example.com.
Reny said the program is off to a good start and he hopes as word spreads and the company does more advertising, the program will gain traction.
“We recently did some advertising, with some five-second ads on television. (Monday) was the first day after the ads and we seemed to have a good turnout,” Reny said.
Renys stores had closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We figured we wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem. We have got to stop this from spreading,” Reny said.
The business has continued to pay its employees and will continue to do so until stores reopen. Reny hopes to reopen stores in May, but said the business will follow guidance from the state.
“Right now we have most of our management people working and as things pick up, we will bring in more people as we need them. We are also rotating staff in our warehouse and office, and shipping merchandise to our stores. We are getting back to business,” Reny said.
Established in Damariscotta in 1949, Renys has two locations on opposite sides of Main Street. The chain’s distribution center and headquarters are on Route 1 in Newcastle.
Renys was the fifth-biggest private employer in Lincoln County as of the third quarter of 2019, per statistics from the Maine Department of Labor.
To shop, go to renys.com.