Coping with Covid in California

After Governor Gavin Newsom issued a plan to begin reopening businesses in California, Bambu Batu has followed suit with softer restrictions on retail shopping. In addition to online shopping, our customers can now come into the store and personally peruse our fine wares, almost like the olden days.

But this is hardly a return to normal. Under Bambu Batu’s current policy, we are allowing one customer (or family/couple) to enter the store at a time. We strongly encourage customers to wear a face mask, and I will be wearing a face mask myself.

As the shut down, which began in the third week of March 2020, forced us to lay off our staff, I will be the only person working in the store. Under these self-imposed regulations, we feel confident that we can continue to guarantee the health and safety of our customers and our community.

Bambu Batu bamboo products a to z
Bambu Batu in early 2020. (Photo by Fred Hornaday)

Social Distance at Bambu Batu

Bambu Batu’s shop space comprises about 1,400 square feet. So between one employee and one or two customers, this allows for an abundance of social distancing. At the same time, it also means you may have to wait outside for a few minutes before getting in. It’s not exactly Trader Joe’s, but we did have 3 people standing in line the other day, and it’s common to see one or two people waiting.

For best results, you can call ahead to make an appointment for a private shopping experience. With an appointment, you won’t have to wait in line. Alternatively, you can try to avoid peak hours when Bambu Batu is busiest. Lately, we have been busiest between around noon and 2 pm.

Our business hours remain, as usual, Monday through Saturday from 10am-6pm, and Sunday 11-5. (Although this Sunday is Mother’s Day and we will be closed). If you’re shopping by appointment, we can also schedule your private shopping as early as 9 am or as late as 7 pm.

Bambu Batu on the front page.

Liquidation in Time of Coronavirus

Why are people suddenly waiting in long lines to get into Bambu Batu? Is there a disruption in the bamboo supply chain that could result in critical shortages?

Well, as a matter of fact yes. On May 31, we will be closing our store permanently. Bambu Batu is a shop like no other, with an exceptional and eclectic selection of organic bamboo clothing and spiritually oriented gift items. After 14 years of serving the public with these hard-to-find products, our costumers from SLO County and across the state and the country will not know where to turn to find bamboo underwear, classic t-shirt designs, or uplifting Laxmi statues.

Indeed, it will certainly leave a serious gap in downtown SLO. After years of evolving into more and more of a Santa Barbara lookalike, with an increasing number of corporate chain stores, the downtown core is now losing one more facet of its distinct character.

Moreover, our customers understand that they will never again find a selection like ours at prices like these. Currently, nearly everything in the store is half-price, and inventory is disappearing quickly.

Bamboo face masks for covid
Bamboo face masks seemed like such a good idea.

Social Distance Happy Hour at Bambu Batu

In these uncertain times, you may have heard that alcohol sales are on the rise. So if you make an appointment for a private shopping experience at 6 or 7 pm, you may find that Happy Hour is already under way.

But don’t worry, this is Socially Distanced Happy Hour. That means there are no crowds, no hugs, and no toasting of glassware. It’s just me and a bottle of red. If you’d like to participate, there’s generally room for one individual or couple. Just call ahead, bring your own glassware, and don’t expect me to wear a mask.

Empty Bamboo Shop
In the end, Bambu Batu was hollowed out like a bamboo culm.