A robotic vacuum, marketed to people who have no time to clean, was a tougher sell to an audience banned from engaging in most social activities. “When we get back to normal life,” said the disembodied voice of a vendor calling in by phone, “we’re busy. We don’t spend our time vacuuming.”
A two-hour presentation of gourmet food items stood out in that two hosts were on the set simultaneously to sell them. At times, Mary Beth Roe and Stacey Stauffer appeared on opposite sides of a kitchen island laden with holiday food, apparently in accordance with the six feet of personal distance recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In other moments, they tested even the bounds of the laxer one-meter advisory issued by the World Health Organization.
“I know a lot of you have emailed and such and said, ‘Are you guys doing this and that?’” Ms. Roe said early in the segment, referring to viewers’ questions about whether QVC is operating in accordance with health advisories. “We absolutely are, which is why we are not eating any of this food.” Both women, she explained, had sampled the items they were pitching “months and weeks ago.”
Besides negotiating the inherent stop-and-start awkwardness of conference calls with unseen guests, the hosts of clothing segments visibly battled their urges to casually re-drape and arrange items worn by a reduced number of models on set.
The sets themselves, each designed to look like a brightly lit version of a neutral upscale kitchen, or sitting alcove, or living room with two other living rooms inside it, felt unusually cavernous. A representative for QVC declined to say how many employees were present. Hosts spoke of keeping as many people out of the studio “as possible.”
But they also emphasized that QVC’s service would continue unimpeded. As ever, items would arrive “directly to your doorstep — no interaction with a human being,” said Kerstin Lindquist. While the majority of employees at the corporate office in West Chester have shifted to remote work, QVC fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and North and South Carolina have not reduced staffing. (The company said it has made health and safety modifications at all sites to support social distancing and enhanced sanitation practices, and those whose jobs are conducive to working remotely are doing so.)
“We’re one of the only things that is still live, other than news,” said Ms. Lindquist while demonstrating application of an anti-aging product. “And we’re going to try and stay live as long as we possibly can with the appropriate precautions always being taken. As you can see, I’m alone here, which is great.”