With their stores closed, these four retailers used the time to freshen up their spaces—a treat for their customers and a morale-booster for themselves.
Retailers who had to shut down their physical locations due to COVID-19 did not waste a moment, many turning to long-delayed renovation and clean-up projects to enhance their store’s appearance and get it ready—eventually—for reopening. These small facelifts, whether to the physical displays and fixtures or the technical systems that help run store operations, will help build excitement for customers as they slowly start to shop again.
Online, to foster anticipation, storeowners count down the days till their stores open again by sharing images of the updates on social media as a reminder to customers that business will return to normal—with even some improvements.
Shayne Kavanaugh and Tracy McNeil
“There was no way we could have painted the store during normal business hours,” says Buzy Bodies co-owner Shayne Kavanaugh. She and her business partner, Tracy McNeil, had been in their space for 10 years and were ready to give its bright pink walls an update. The project had been put off, but when Louisiana issued the stay-at-home order, the women found the time was right for the renovation.
“To prep the store for painting, we moved all merchandise and fixtures to one side of the store then painted the other side,” says Kavanaugh. “It took two coats of paint, so we had to wait for it to dry, then apply the second coat. Once one side was completely painted with two coats, we moved all the merchandise back to the other side of the store and started painting again.” The entire process took five days.
The owners also used the time to go through their inventory and made a large donation of unsold items. “With this reduction of inventory, we no longer needed some of the larger circle racks and are now able to use smaller racks we had in storage,” Kavanaugh adds.
The new layout and the fresh paint give the store a fresh modern look, which the storeowners expect customers to get excited over when they reopen their doors.
Attitude Dance Boutique
College Station, TX
Storeowner Emily Mayerhoff took advantage of her store’s closure to redesign her shoe-fitting area in order to create a larger, more comfortable space for customers when they return. “The project has been on my radar since last year’s back-to-school,” says Mayerhoff. “I thought I would do it over spring break, but I wasn’t ready. Then this happened and I figured this is as good a time as any.”
She first removed the old theater seats and replaced them with two upholstered benches that allowed for less-crowded seating, for social distancing. She also flipped the slat wall display with the mirror and practice barre to create more space for displaying products. Instead of one framed out square of slat wall, Mayerhoff now has two squares side-by-side for double the amount of shoes and shoe accessories.
She was able to complete the project with an extra piece of slat wall she already had, and she ordered the benches and a new area rug online to avoid going out. Her husband helped with the work so that none of her staff were put at risk.
The shoe area, which only held three dancers at a time, now can accommodate six. However, due to state regulations Mayerhoff can’t have that many people in her store just yet. Still, the added space will allow customers more room for social distancing, making their shopping experience more comfortable and safe when they return.
Black and Pink Dance Supplies
While she’s been closed, owner Holly Hoffman has focused on streamlining a few areas of her business to create more efficiency for shoppers, as well as her staff. For starters, she is switching her current racks with a modular grid system. “This will allow me to maximize my square footage by using more vertical space,” she says. With more wall space to merchandise outfits, customers will be better able to see new arrivals in the shop.
Additionally, Hoffman made some technology updates that will make the backend of her business run more smoothly. She used the time off to switch her website over to one that integrates with her POS system to better manage inventory. “Instead of having to manually update my stock count, web sales will pull from my inventory and the in-stock numbers will be reflected on the website for my customers,” she says. “I’ve been needing to update my website for quite some time.”
Both of these updates could not come at a better time, since Hoffman recently acquired new inventory from a closing business. With her store temporarily closed, she was able to go through everything in detail and add it to her POS system.
Hoffman says she is excited to have been able to expand the capacity of her store with a new display and additional items, which will offer a greater variety and a new look to customers when they return.
Repairs and Deep Cleaning
While Bloom Dancewear was closed, owner Patty Miller used the time to do small fixes around the store and “to rearrange racks and inventory just to give things a fresh look,” she says. She repositioned hooks that were loose in the dressing rooms and repaired and painted where the old ones had been; she repainted the two restrooms that were in need of a fresh coat; and she gave everything a good, deep cleaning.
Presenting a clean store is top priority more than ever these days for retailers. Miller cleaned all of the four-ways and racks and sterilized handles, keyboards, phones and any other high-touch surfaces. The three leather benches used to fit shoes were scrubbed down, and the chandelier that hangs over the checkout counter was given a good dusting. “It’s amazing how things go unnoticed when you are busy,” Miller says. “Bloom is the cleanest I think it’s ever been”—a welcome reassurance of safety for shoppers cautiously venturing out.
For everyone’s safety, Miller worked alone the last two weeks of March and the month of April. “I would go to the store every day to receive mail or UPS boxes and check for mask orders on our website and e-mail,” she says. She adds that when several manufacturers started to produce masks, she seized the opportunity to bring in revenue while the store was closed. “I appreciated it so very much as a retailer,” Miller says. “It honestly kept Bloom’s motor idling until we could get things rolling again.”
Libby Basile is a former editor-in-chief of Dance Retailer News. She reports regularly on visual merchandising, retail strategy and store design.