Minneapolis business owner predicts retail will be forever changed by COVID-19

Rosenthal Furniture, located in downtown Minneapolis, says retail business might never be the same thanks to COVID-19.

The updated COVID-19 restrictions that go into effect Monday mean many Twin Cities business owners are making final preparations this weekend to reopen their doors.

At midnight Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order will expire and be replaced by the “Stay Safe Minnesota” order, which will ease restrictions on businesses and small group gatherings.

Rosenthal Interiors, a furniture store in Minneapolis, will change how it does business. The store has been a staple of downtown Minneapolis for 125 years and there isn’t much they haven’t been through.

“Weathered some floods, weathered a fire and the light rail,” said Rosie Rosenthal, of Rosenthal Interiors.

A fourth-generation owner of the business, Rosenthal is guiding her family’s store through this latest storm.

“We have masks available for everyone, we have gloves available, we have hand sanitizer available after people have been here, we sanitize all the furniture that’s been sat on and touched,” Rosenthal said.

COVID-19 has changed how they do business because they sell mattresses and desks, so they’re considered essential. They weren’t open until last week, however, operating at reduced hours and by appointment only. It’s something Rosenthal will keep in place come Monday.

“Of course business was down over the last month and a half, but I did quite a bit of sales myself by just responding to clients or meeting them down here,” she said.

That very personal way of doing business is one COVID-19-related change Rosenthal wants to keep around for the long term.

“I really like doing that,” she said. “It’s a much slower pace. Comfortable. You can take all the time you want and get to know them.”

Rosenthal says retail may never really look the same.

“I can’t see retail needing to be open all those hours, sitting and waiting for people to show up when people will tell you when they want to come,” she said.

She things Rosenthal Furniture is uniquely ready for the COVID-19 challenge, because adapting is something her family business is really good at.

“It’s a gift to be able to step back, see what’s really important, and it’s not money. It’s not work. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are and who you are to others,” she said.