GameStop has closed all its stores in Massachusetts, after instructing employees last week to wrap their hands in plastic bags and give customers their orders through a crack in the door.
The business does not provide an essential service and is not allowed to offer curbside pickup during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the state, which ordered all nonessential businesses to shut down as of March 24. And yet GameStop continued operating, allowing customers who couldn’t make online orders to pay for and pick up games at the door.
If there were no gloves, employees were instructed via e-mail to “lightly (you want to be able to get it off easily) tape a Game Stop plastic bag over your hand and arm. Do not open the door all the way — keep the glass between you and the guest’s face — just reach out your arm.”
But after operating for several days in violation of the state's shutdown order, on Tuesday the inspectional services department for the City of Boston ordered the Dorchester store to close immediately. No fine was issued but a nuisance order was issued and the inspector visited the store on Wednesday to ensure it had not reopened, according to the city. On Thursday, GameStop confirmed that it had closed all its stores in Massachusetts but did not respond to further questions.
It's unclear if the company is still operating in other states.
GameStop, which is based in Grapevine, Texas, and operates more than 5,500 stores worldwide, according to its website, has been struggling in recent years as gamers increasingly play online.
But chief executive George Sherman said last week that with millions of Americans stuck at home for the past few weeks, demand for video games had increased. “The COVID-19 outbreak has led to changes in how consumers work, play, and learn,” he said in a statement. “While still early, we are pleased with the progress we have made to date in our initiatives to stabilize, optimize, and transform the business.”
Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.