Shops selling secondhand items putting extra disinfecting, safety measures in place

Customers check out at Plato's Closet in Coralville on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Aaron...
Customers check out at Plato's Closet in Coralville on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 5:54 PM CDT
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As retail stores reopen, that means some businesses are getting back to selling new and used items, and some secondhand shops say they are putting extra steps in place to ensure used items are still safe to buy.

It has been weeks, but customers are now back inside Plato's Closet in Coralville.

"It's been exactly two months," Renee Lehr, the district manager for the store, said.

Lehr made sure when they re-opened, things were clean and ready.

"What we've done in our store is set up stations and kind of separating the store a little bit so there's more space for each person to have as much as distance, hopefully, the six-foot distance, that they can have in the store," Lehr said.

Safety at stores like Plato's Closet is key, considering how much of their inventory is secondhand.

"Making sure that they're freshly laundered, that there's no signs of recent wear or tear on those items," Lehr said. "We're wearing gloves when we process these containers, going through and inspecting every item for condition issues."

Lehr says they will still buy used items, but new rules were in place.

"All of our items are quarantined for 48 hours," Lehr said. "So before we place them out on our floor, before we mix them in with other clothing, we are holding those behind, disinfecting those for 48 hours."

Plato's Closet isn't the only place still open for buying used items; over at Play it Again Sports in Iowa City, Chris Suchomel said they are buying whatever they can get.

"Usually this time of year we buy between $400-$800 a day," Suchomel said. "And we're doing $50-$100 a day. It's not as normal. But we are seeing more and more it seems like every day."

But they, too, have slowed down the process of getting items on the floor.

"Anything that can be washed, we wash it in a washing machine," Suchomel said. "Anything that can't be, say a golf club or a treadmill, we sanitize it, wipe it down, make sure that we can get as much off of it as possible."

Suchmoel said they have not only increased cleaning but cut back hours. Those steps come at a price, but he said re-opening safely is most important.