Pivot and adjust; A long time retail tenant is prospering during the pandemic
After months of adapting, evolving and revising their business models, retailers are finding what works for their business to thrive during the pandemic. We recently sat down with Kenzie Laster, the manager of ReStyle boutique which has been a tenant at North Albany Village since 2010. ReStyle is a clothing reseller with several locations throughout Oregon. They worked quickly throughout March and April to adapt to the changing atmosphere and are now prospering with their new adjustments in place.
The state mandated shut down in March unfortunately coincided with ReStyle’s 10 year anniversary so in addition to closing their space to in-person shopping for two months, they also had to cancel the celebratory party they had planned. This poor timing couldn’t diminish their ambition and they quickly got to work moving the business online. While there were no customers allowed inside their store, Kenzie and her employees used their retail location to shoot photographs of product, and launched a new website using Squarespace. They offered free curbside pick-up, creating a roped off section in front of the store with a station for hand sanitizer and face masks. They also offered free delivery or shipping to anywhere in the United States. They benefited both from support of their local community, as well as new customers across the country.
When they opened back up in May, they saw a lot of their customers excited to get back into the shop and their in-store sales numbers went back up quickly even with limited capacity for in person shoppers. To keep everyone safe, they added social distancing markers to encourage shoppers to stay six feet apart. They have continued to update their website and while shipped orders went down a bit, their curbside pick-up numbers remain strong. Kenzie credits their bond with their customers who have continued to support them so that ReStyle is still in business once the pandemic is over.
While their foot traffic has remained steady since they reopened, Kenzie says that it’s not quite where it was pre-pandemic. “There are a handful of our regular shoppers that we would love to see weekly that are just not shopping at all anymore. So, we have reached out to them directly with hand-written letters that include a promo code for our website.”
Looking ahead as the vaccine starts to roll out and regulations loosen, ReStyle plans to continue to push online sales and their website to their customers, including direct sales from their Instagram page which is doing very well. Those nation-wide online sales will continue to be a part of their sales projections moving forward. Having to temporarily close their storefront pushed them into gear to grow their online presence and keeps their business nimble for whatever is ahead. They now have a dedicated space for packaging and shipping orders in their store and they continue to see a steady stream of online sales come in.
While no two businesses are alike, there’s a lot to learn from ReStyle’s willingness to jump in and make the right changes to keep their business afloat last Spring. Some of their full-time employees were temporarily laid off and the owner paid her part-time employees out-of-pocket but within a couple months they were able to bring everyone back on. Going through this experience wasn’t easy but they adjusted and came together to create a stronger business model for ReStyle moving forward.