Walking is a great way to cope in this pandemic. As I live in lower Manhattan, walking is usually the only alternative anyway. Walking up Broadway, I passed a local supply store. A poster was affixed to the window announcing it was closing in April. The next block was consumed with a neo-Gothic building, whose arches graced the façade and white marble figurines danced over storefronts that were all closed now save for one – a retail telecom store.
Colorful squares with white shoe prints were placed on the sidewalk. A sign inside the glass informed potential shoppers to “Observe Social Distancing Guidelines.” Masks of course would be required of store employees and customers, both of whom “must wear a face mask at all times.”
This store was surviving among one of the most crushing economic periods the city has probably ever seen. Clearly phones, brightly colored screens and cases, artfully displayed on the wall and stands tempt our technologically savvy selves in the best of times. In the worst of times, though, phones are our lifeline to family and friends, serving as one of the most important assets a person can have.
Telecom retail, which offers phones for as little as free is a great societal equalizer – anyone can click “on” to connect. In a pandemic, being able to get out and find a telecom store can make all the difference. Without it, people find themselves alone, and often enough, fearful. Being able to go into a store surrounded by phones and engaged with an expert salesperson, can raise the mood. And in these times, that’s a great thing. It’s hard enough thing to do when times are good, and nearly impossible in times like this.
One of the expectations people have when they go to a telecom store is that they will be surrounded by mechanical and human help. The dozens of phones sitting on the tables is a kind of assurance that we need. And the presence of the salespersons shows that the community is still fully functional. In this setting, but even more now during the pandemic, the salesperson and the phone system offer a point of reference and a point of sale. If the customer needs support, they can get it at one place immediately. A great POS system avoids the in-store lines and the come back later requests. In a pandemic, a strong POS can make the difference between a pleasant and unpleasant experience for the customer.
As I walked on, I looked back at the retail telecom store, happy that they were still there, and certainly I hope they remain since the supply store on the corner shut its doors for good last week.