Let’s first remind ourselves that this too shall pass: as precarious as life seems at the moment, we will get through it. Our country has a history of shining brightest when it’s dark: stories of ordinary people helping each other out in times of crisis truly lift the soul.
Here, a few tips that might lift a few spirits right now:
**Stay connected to your customers. Social media, emails, postcards, phone calls—all of this means so much more when people are stuck at home. No hard-selling please at this time but why not gently remind your customers that buying something new for themselves, their spouse, or a friend provides a definite uplift that we all could use these days. Direct them to your website, with a few gift suggestions at various pricepoints.
**You don’t have a website!!! Now’s the time to create one. You’ll likely find plenty of talented underemployed tech people in your town who will be delighted to help you out. (Craig Beecroft from Beecroft & Bull just made his first move into selling online with a new site; his note to customers begins like this: “We are proud of our brick-and-mortar heritage but recent global events necessitated the creation of a safe alternative to our in-store shopping experience…”)
**Encourage store gift certificates. Some retailers are offering discounts (20 percent off), others not, but either way—it’s a great vehicle to jumpstart cash flow and get customers coming back into the store once it reopens.
**Why not try virtual trunk shows on social media? (Trevor Furbay of Trevor Furbay Bespoke in Cincinnati did one with Mizzen & Main yesterday on Instagram that was quite successful.)
**Stay connected to your vendors: not only do you need them for future business but they too can surely use a friend. Recognize that they’re also struggling, many with warehouses filled with spring product that no one’s taking. They too have bills to pay, employee salaries, health insurance, 401K’s disappearing, etc. A little empathy goes a long way.
**If it hasn’t yet been mandated in your city or state, please encourage your retailer colleagues to close their stores for 2-3 weeks and then reassess. At the moment, it seems the best possible way to flatten the curve and avert the nightmare our friends in Italy are currently confronting.
**Be optimistic. Politics aside, our government is stepping in and allocating funds to help businesses and individuals in need. Low-interest loans will be widely available and things will get back to normal. In the meantime: be well, be safe and be kind.