Business owners look to move operations outdoors

Local businesses turn to open air concepts

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - At least 34 business owners in Tucson have applied to the city for permission to move from inside the store to outside in the open air.

The city is waiving fees and fast tracking permits to try to help the business owners, many of them small mom and pop operations, to keep their doors open and bottom lines tolerable.

“Let them set up shop and be in place for an extended period of time,” said Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik, a major proponent of the idea. “Right now we’re looking at until the end of the year.”

The business owners must submit a plan to the city for approval. So far, 12 have been approved and two dozen more are waiting in the wings.

“This is something we’re going to have to consider doing,” he said. “Or we’re going to be losing businesses in the downtown core but along 4th Avenue as well.”

“It might be worthwhile, experimenting and making it walkable,” said Libby Tobey, co-owner of Popcycle, an arts store on Fourth. “I think it would be a beneficial thing to try.”

Popcycle, a small locally owned store, doesn’t have the space to promote social distancing for a large number of customers and many out-of-towners are not sure of mask rules.

To make it safe for workers and the public, the store has eliminated walk in traffic.

“We’ve had to shift from a store with wonderful visits with people to an on-line, curbside pickup and deliveries,” Tobey said.

So moving part of the operation outdoors makes sense.

“It would optimize space and spacing,” she said. “But also allow people to interact in a way we’re not able to do right now.”

Anyone interested can contact city planning or the Ward 6 office for more details.

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