Supporting Local Business During Covid-19
Even during the shelter in place and lockdowns, we saw a surge in sales for those big-box retailers. Walmart, Target and large grocers have all experienced a sales jump during this pandemic season. According to an article published by Barron’s, on average, these retailers’ stocks are up 11% during an otherwise dismal economy. Costco and Walmart alone are trading for 34 and 24 times estimated 2020 earnings and Kroger is trading for about 12 times estimated 2020 earnings. There is no doubt that these retailers will endure these difficult times.
For comparison sake, Macy’s and Kohls have fallen about 64% year to date on average taking some big hits to their stock values. The department store format was already struggling and over the past several years many have taken their spending dollars and consumer power to the local boutiques and shops in their communities. Events like “Small Business Saturday”, the day immediately following Black Friday, have been paramount to bringing more foot traffic to the doors of these small local shops.
Save the Small
But shop owners nationwide are grappling with the notion they may never see another Small Business Saturday in their future. While consumer spending has prompted a record drop during Covid-19 according to the Wall Street Journal, there is no doubt that the shop owners and local boutiques will continue to struggle to make ends meet in 2020. They are not propelled by a board of directors, funded by investors, or have sophisticated marketing budgets to spend. Running commercials or shelling out advertising dollars in the various social media platforms are likely not within reach. Their best chance of survival is word of mouth, local efforts and consumers making a choice: shop small and save OR shop big and die. As dramatic as that sounds, our spending choices are what will save or kill small towns, local shops, and beloved boutiques.
When posed with where to buy a birthday present, a graduation gift or something for yourself there are plenty of big-box retailers down the street to peruse and who will gladly take your money. But, if you think about what your local downtown square will look like in the next few weeks, you have a very important choice to make.
We talked to a few local independents about what they are doing to survive Covid-19 and here is what they had to say.
Keeping up with the kiddos
“Anything we can do to make it easier for our customers is what we’re doing,” says Nicki Ripp owner of Flying Ryno, an upscale children’s boutique off the square in downtown Rockwall. From home deliveries of Easter baskets to fill-the-time kits for young kiddos, this shop owner went from storefront to delivery service in a matter of days. “Our most effective tool has been Instagram”, says Ripp. The Flying Ryno just opened its doors in January of 2020 and is one of the best merchandised and assorted kids’ boutiques in town. For summer, the shop is gearing up with “Surviving Summer” kits and new Posh Peanut pjs as well as Native Shoes for those little ones. Check out their assortment on their website, flyingryno.com or email the owner at email@example.com. The store resumed normal business hours June 1st and is welcoming customers back.
Dressed up with somewhere to go
Just around the corner and a few doors down is the adorable Simply Kate women’s boutique. The shop is a favorite among locals and has the best collection of jewelry and clothes in town. In fact, when polled, women by far in the community expressed this shop as one of their favorites, especially with the jewelry selection and prices. The shop owner, Kaitlin Leahy, has had the boutique for a few years. “Curbside delivery, free shipping and new promotions were about all we could offer during the stores limited hours this spring,” says Kate. “We’ve been able to connect with our customers via social channels, but it’s just not the same as the face-to-face interaction that we prefer. This shop has been my dream and my livelihood. We are so grateful to those customers who are trying to help keep us stay afloat. By making a purchase or sharing content over social channels, all of this helps so much and we are so thankful.” Simply Kate has now reopened their doors for the public. Follow their Facebook page @shopsimplykate for specials and new merchandise.
Last but not least are all those home goods we just can’t live without in this town. From The Shoppe on Goliad, to Mint Julep to the new Kitchy Kitchens on the square, we all can’t go long with those housewares and home décor. Home Goods is always around the corner, but these shops may not be. Get out and start updating that home office or living room you’re spending so much time in these days. These shops are open with limited hours, check them out on their Facebook pages.
If we all take this opportunity and think of our spending power as a service to those small business owners needing our support, we will ALL get through this together.
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Images courtesy of the New York Times, Unsplash