How local retail stores are adapting to COVID-19 crisis

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — From curbside pickup to free delivery and online shopping, small business retailers are finding ways to connect with their customers.

Many local retailers are taking the leap of faith to still serve their customers in a new way.

Suzanne Dora, the owner of Fancy Schmancy’s, says they have over 7,000 dresses available in the store. She says their dresses — and prom season — are currently at a standstill.

“So far this season we sold over 500 dresses. We are hoping they will do a virtual prom, so these girls get to have their pictures taken with their dresses on. But the coronavirus stopped our season right in the middle,” she said.

Lindsay O’Connor, the owner of Irene Leigh, is giving discounts on her workout clothes. O’Connor says she is putting it in her own hands to adapt to this crisis.

“Every waking hour I have put as much as I can on my website. I have been funneling all of my stores traffic, obviously, in that direction,” she explained.

Rockabella Boutique is using virtual appointments to interact with customers. Owner Christine Goutos says she wanted to be creative.

“I want my customers to have that one-on-one experience. Virtually, they can feel like they are in the store with us. We will pick stuff out for them, and put things on the mannequin, so they can see things on actual bodies,” Goutos said.

For many small business retailers, curbside pickup has been the name of the game.

“We have been able to set up local pickups and drop offs. We also have been able to ship to people across the country,” said O’Connor.

“Our store hangs the item outside and then people come pick it up. They first paid for their item over the phone and then we give them a virtual high five,” explained Goutos.

Many local retailers are now having to face the reality that the spring season is almost over. Ted Potrikus, the President and CEO of the Retail Council of New York State, says retail prepares two season ahead.

“We have to worry now: where does the money come from, especially for the fall merchandise. Many retailers are also asking: where are we going to put the fall merchandise. I know we haven’t hit summer, yet, but retailers always think ahead,” he said.

Many small business retailers say it’s just as important to support local retail shops as it is to support local restaurants.

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