Small businesses get creative to stay afloat
By Michele Newbanks
Having a small shop forced to close for an extended period of time can be devastating for some owners, but others are finding ways to wait it out.
Asylum Comics owner Jordan Lowe said his customers have been asking what will happen next for him and his Third Street shop. Right now, he’s keeping optimistic his store will be able to open soon.
“I have regular customers who have been shopping with me for years,” he said.“Comics are monthly periodicals, but I’m not sure which customer will have lost a job. I can’t assume they’ll have the same disposable income.”
He said there is a lot of competition for collectibles online, so he’s never had a big online presence, much like other small businesses downtown.
“We’re a small town with a strong downtown. There will always be brick and mortar stores,” he said.
Dad’s Primitive Workbench owner Charlie Clay is getting through the shutdown with orders from his store at dadsprimitiveworkbench.com.
“I don’t know if it will ever be business as usual,” Clay said. “I hope when we open, people will be ready to get out shopping.”
He said the shop’s website is fully functional and they’ve been getting orders.
“It’s been hard, but we’ve really digested our business and figured out how we would run what we do in the store in a safe, social distanced atmosphere,” he said. “The e-commerce site was the best thing I could have done.”
He said the downtown atmosphere is encouraging instead of competitive right now.
“We’re doing our best to keep afloat and keep our neighbors afloat by sharing posts from their businesses. We encourage each other because every day is a challenge,” Clay said.
He said when they re-open, he hopes they can get back to a “new normal,” where people are more aware of shopping local with their families.
“I hope we come out stronger on the other side,” he said. “What is really good is the support among merchants. It’s an incredible bond and nobody knows what we’re going through.”
He said it’s what small business should be, keeping in touch and checking on each other.
The one-time style box is $59.95 plus tax and shipping, but customers can save the shipping costs when the store re-opens by picking up the box at the Front Street store.
Along with their online shop, they do virtual decorating for either a half hour or full hour. Clay said they will Facetime the customer and show them how to use what they already have in their home to redecorate.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to offer. We come up with a new creative way to use what you have to decorate,” he said, noting the cost is $25 for 30 minutes or $50 for an hour.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.