'Most importantly, our team got back together': Sibley's West owner talks about reopening the downtown Chandler gift shop

Sibley's West in downtown Chandler opened May 4 on a limited basis and opened further May 8. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sibley's West in downtown Chandler opened May 4 on a limited basis and opened further May 8. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Sibley's West in downtown Chandler opened May 4 on a limited basis and opened further May 8. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

John Wolfe, who owns Sibley's West in downtown Chandler with his wife, Michelle, said the gift shop had been doing OK during the coronavirus closure with online sales. It gave the owners a chance to bolster their online store and inventory. But Wolfe said he was more than happy to open the storefront for the first time in weeks May 4 for shopping by appointment, then open up further May 8.

"We will still limit the number of people in the store, and we will try to encourage social distancing," Wolfe said. "When people come in, they will be greeted so that people are feeling comfortable. Our staff will be wearing masks; we will have a spritzer with hand sanitizer; and we are hoping to have temporary disposable masks and gloves if a guest wants to wear them. We are hoping that everyone is sensitive to other people. We have to work together to make it a success for everybody."

Retail shops like Sibley's got the green light to open from Gov. Doug Ducey on May 4, then further May 8. The governor's office released guidelines as to how retail establishments can work to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

"This is our family," Wolfe said. "Most importantly, our team got back together this week. We’ve got seven employees, and we haven’t seen them. They were all furloughed, so we haven’t been able to really see them, but Monday folks came back, and it was great."

Wolfe said he and other downtown Chandler business owners had a lot of hope for a revenue boost this spring before concern around the coronavirus shuttered dine-in services in restaurants and closed retail operations entirely for weeks on end. The area had seen decreased revenue while construction of the New Square development was ongoing last year. The development is next to the downtown historic square, which is where Sibely's is located.


"Really from January to October, it was rough," Wolfe said. "You had a bunch of people that loved being in downtown Chandler, but there was no parking. So we all had a rough 2019 and were excited for 2020. That was just taken away from us. So what do you do? You try to come up with a plan, and you try to make it work."

Wolfe and his wife put a lot of effort into the online store and doubled its inventory. He said the effort paid off in the last few weeks.

"If you patronize us and buy local, we will be buying more local from Arizona suppliers—even if it's a little bit, it's going to have a positive impact," Wolfe said. "Maybe our online store got a little more attention and provides a little more promise than it did before, but our bread and butter is our in-store experience."

Sibley's West is open May 8 and May 9 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 10.



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