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Lancaster City Council considers outdoor shopping to help struggling retailers

Lancaster City Council is reviewing an ordinance that would allow retail owners to obtain licenses to sell merchandise outside of their stores.

LANCASTER, Pa. — Many local retailers have struggled to stay afloat over the past four months. Marty Hulse, owner of Building Character and Madcap & Co. in Downtown Lancaster, said he was hit hard by coronavirus-related shutdowns.

“It was the worst time ever in my 13 years of being in business,” Hulse said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen, when we would open, and when we did open we didn’t know if people were going to come back.”

To help keep businesses open, Lancaster City Council is considering an ordinance that would allow outdoor shopping. The proposal would give established retail owners the opportunity to sell merchandise in front of their stores or nearby property. It comes after the city expanded outdoor dining to help restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“But for retailers, it’s a little difficult because we have to be with the merchandise all the time. How do you ring things up? It’s just a lot of unanswered questions,” added Hulse.

The city’s narrow streets and sidewalks could create challenges in creating retail space. Many business owners told FOX43 they are not sure they can afford the extra staffing they would need to expand retail sales outside, while also maintaining business indoors.

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If the Wolf Administration were to roll back reopening plans and enforce another lockdown, Hulse said it could help to have options.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s wonderful that the city and the city council are thinking of the business and the retail business owners, but it’s probably a little too much for us to handle,” he said.

Lancaster City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance regarding outdoor retail operations at their regular next meeting on July 28.

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