There’s nothing like an in-real-life shopping experience but local businesses are providing options, too
Photography by BEAU KESTER // Model: HALLIE LANGE, MODEL MACHINE // Hair and makeup by EMILY SEWELL
COME ON IN
A 2021 PwC consumer survey found that most shoppers still prefer to shop in-person rather than online. Survey respondents said they prefer brick-and-mortar stores for both ethical and practical reasons: they like to support local businesses — and shopping in a physical store makes for easier returns, if needed. A 2019 First Insight report also found that 71 percent of shoppers polled spent $50 or more in-store, compared to only 54 percent of respondents spending the same amount when shopping online. This points to the emotional, experiential aspect of in-store shopping behavior. After all, retail therapy is real: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology confirmed that making a purchase offers an immediate boost of happiness and sense of control, while also reducing any lingering sadness.
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS,
we’ve seen schools go hybrid, appointments transition to virtual and shopping move mostly online. But for those who still enjoy a good ol’ in-person shopping spree, and for those vibrant small businesses who are more than willing to oblige, what does the future hold?
We spoke with three local business owners on how they are navigating the precarious retail climate, leaning into the digital age, and attempting (amid constant pandemic and supply-chain curveballs) to plan ahead.
JENNIFER GRAYSON // Owner of One Fish Two Fish and The Annex
ON PRIORITIZING DIGITAL:
My interest has always been more focused on the creative side and not as much on the technology side of running One Fish Two Fish. The pandemic forced me to take the next natural step into the digital world. We are proud of our new website, onefishstore.com, which also includes inventory over at The Annex. I get excited every time my phone chimes to alert me of an online sale!
ON BRIGHT IDEAS IN A DARK TIME:
In the height of the pandemic, our most successful venture was our “bring 10 friends” private shopping party experience. Loyal customers were kind enough to book these events and support local business. The concept caught on, and I’m so thankful for the warm response from the community.
ON FEEDING OFF OF THE “COMPETITION”:
I love seeing new stores and getting inspiration from individuals and their talent. I believe others feel the same and will continue to shop and explore locally throughout the Downtown Design District.
STACY SULLIVAN // Chief strategic offer at Levy Jewelers
ON KEEPING CRAFTY:
One of our core principals at Levy Jewelers is creating an exceptional customer service experience, and this did not change with the pandemic. We want to make shopping as easy and convenient as possible for our customers. In addition to our better-known services, such as our wish listing, curbside pickup and local delivery, we are excited to now offer virtual shopping appointments and private appointments to make shopping easy and safe every day.
ON STAYING PREPARED:
We have seen supply chain issues across the board from our jewelry suppliers to our signature Silver Box packaging. Fortunately, we saw this coming over the past year and planned well ahead to make sure we would have a fresh selection of merchandise for our customers.
ON THE SECRET TO LONGEVITY:
We are proud to be celebrating 122 years in business. We opened in 1900, so striving to adapt to our ever-changing market and our customers’ wants and needs is one of the keys to us staying relevant after all these years.
ERICA SNAYD // Co-owner of Rethink Studio and Asher + Rye
ON TRANSPARENCY WITH DELAYS:
The most important element, we find, is communication. Keeping the customer updated helps reduce the level of frustration. I think because we are in year two of dealing with such issues, customers are more desensitized and, therefore, more tolerant and somewhat empathetic.
ON PLANNING AHEAD:
Planning for the future is a bit scary with so many unknowns. However, we believe that keeping the shop fresh — with new products or simply by re-merchandizing existing products — motivates people to keep coming back. At the same time, creating multiple revenue streams that are either accessories to our business or fill a gap in the marketplace is essential. For example, we will be introducing coffee and light bites in the new year and plan to have events that bring the community together.
ON LESSONS LEARNED:
First, don’t be stagnant. Always create a reason for customers to come back. Listen to what your customers are looking for and pay attention to how they shop your store. But on a larger level, it is critical for local
businesses to support each other. It is not about competition. It’s about appreciating and recommending other like-minded shops to customers, especially when they are right next door.