Local Boutique Survives and Thrives As Owners Out Hustle COVID-19
Unique Strategies & Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work Help Boho 72 Endure
Unless you’ve just emerged from a silent retreat a la Jared Leto style, you know that everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19. Even bigger corporations are struggling in some way or another. Still, some businesses are hustling and persevering, even as the world is in disarray. Boho 72 Boutique in Dublin, Ohio, is doing just that. With their two-woman team, they’ve adapted to the current crazy circumstances to survive and thrive.
Boho 72’s Early Days
Clair and Jamie of Boho 72 have seen their fair share of challenges since the boutique opened in 2011. On top of running the boutique, Jamie is a mother, grandmother, and cancer survivor; and Clair a wife and mother to four kids. Oh and she also has a dog… and lives in England. On top of that, construction outside of their store has diverted customer traffic the past few years. With construction finally completed and everything running smoothly, they expected this to be one of their best years yet. But, of course, 2020 and COVID had other plans.
In the past, Boho 72 had relied on in-store purchases rather than online sales, and really only featured a few items on their site. Clair explained that as regulations were on the horizon and shut downs were imminent, they knew they had to start moving merchandise to their online store – and quickly. Thankfully, they had some experience previously using their site. So, they already had a feel on utilizing their site and tracking inventory before everything hit. What really stands out about Boho 72, though, is how they implemented new and unique strategies, and went back to their social media roots to market themselves and maintain sales.
Utilizing The Free-sources
The beauty of social media is that it is (pretty much) absolutely free. That means businesses can market themselves without spending much. In Boho 72’s case, they had used social media for years, but primarily relied on word of mouth and drive-by advertising. Once COVID started to rapidly influence regulations, the boutique owners revved up their efforts. Between their own research and requests from customers, they created two new strategies to drive sales: Facebook Live at 5 and Bag Drops. With their Live at 5, Jamie uses Facebook live streams to show off some of their newest merchandise and gauge their audience. During their videos viewers can comment on things they like or want to see more of, which helps Jamie make future buying decisions. It also gives customers a happy hour vibe where they can just sit back, unwind, and wine. Recently, their Live at 5 was trivia game-esque with Jamie’s husband even serving as the resident Bob Barker.
Their most unique strategy, though, has been the implementation of their “bag drops.” Once the storefront closed, calls kept coming in with inquiries about merchandise and sizing. Some customers even requested FaceTime shopping sessions. To satisfy customer requests and reduce the number of returns, Jamie started taking orders and delivering bags of clothes and accessories to customers. Et voila the Bag Drop was born. Curious as to how it works? Here’s their procedure:
- Jamie takes an order from a customer. She packs the items and will even throw in a few extra items she thinks might work for the customer as well. If the customer is between sizes, she includes both so they can choose.
- The customer’s credit card number is securely taken for assurance and to make the check out process smooth.
- Jamie drops off the bag of merchandise.
- The customer simply keeps wanted items, and anything that doesn’t quite fit is returned and quarantined before going back in stock.
Rise And Grind
Jamie and Clair have put in the hard work to maintain their shoppers and keep customer relations alive and well. Not to mention, they’ve understood that as the times have changed, their merchandise must as well. With stay at home orders and quarantine getting more serious, spring events like weddings and graduations were cancelled. That means more customers would be at home. So, they shifted to more easy to wear, everyday items rather than elegant summer dresses. Boho 72 still includes dressier items, but I would bet my last clean pair of sweats that people aren’t exactly lounging or working from home in summer frocks. Simply paying attention to customer needs and making those changes have helped Boho 72 to stay in business. Plus, they can pay their rent!
Friends Don’t Let Friends Shop Chain Stores
Boho 72 Boutique has found success because they hustle hard and grind every day. Jamie and Clair continue to do their best and adapt as COVID-19 continues to change regulations and life as we knew it. Forefront loves seeing local businesses thrive in tough times, especially fellow Dublin-ites. Next time you want to freshen up your wardrobe, think about supporting local retailers rather than chain stores.Check out Boho 72 Boutique