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The Chute trying to stay afloat during pandemic with private shopping

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 19, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Like many small businesses, The Chute, a sustainable women's clothing store in Omaha’s Little Bohemia District, is worried about what extended closures would do to her business that has only been open for six months.

Tuesday, Zoey Sterba made the difficult decision to close her store due to the coronavirus pandemic. But she said traffic was already slow in Little Bohemia.

“Sunday was definitely the day I could tell,” Sterba said. “The whole neighborhood was just like dead. Usually Archetype at least has people studying, eating, drinking coffee, and when I drove down, I was like, 'Oh my God, it feels like twilight zone or something.”

The Chute has a website where people can shop. But it’s just not the same as trying something on in store, Sterba recognized.

“I really wanted to keep the brick and mortar alive somehow,” Sterba said. “Just to keep it clean, safe, and healthy I thought it would be fun to do private shopping.”

Private shopping. Sounds like a social distancer’s dream, right?

Customers can book a half hour appointment online to reserve the entire store for themselves so they can shop in a healthier environment.

“A lot of people have been responding to me like, 'Oh my God, this is a great idea,” Sterba said. “I definitely didn't want to come down but now I feel good about it. I think it’s just hard when you come in and it’s been open to the public. You don’t know who has been in, you don't know who has been practicing social distancing, or being safe washing their hands.”

Katie Callaghan reserved her spot Thursday.

“I know my roommates and I have all been cooped up,” Callaghan said. “So it’s nice to have somewhere to go when I'm not going to run into other people, when I don't know where they've been or where I've been.”

Between each customer Sterba wipes everything down.

“I have a lot of 409,” Sterba said.

Before her customers leave, she encourages them to wash their hands.