ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The coronavirus pandemic has forced many retail owners to pivot how they do business in order to keep their doors open, and for some in Albemarle County, those alterations have been a game changer.
“Pre-COVID in the Happy Cook, in the store, it would be shoulder-to-shoulder. A lot of our traffic is during the November and December time, and it’s normally pretty much filled to capacity on a normal December,” The Happy Cook owner Monique Moshier said.
The Happy Cook has been greeting customers searching for kitchen supplies, gifts, and registries in the Barracks Road Shopping Center since 1978. Shelves are neatly stocked, but there are not as many customers shopping in-person anymore.
“We did have a dip in our sales for sure in the early parts of the pandemic of March and April,” Moshier said.
The store had to quickly shift gears and change the way it was doing business by attracting customers in a different way.
“Luckily, we were able to shift a lot of our local customers to curbside pickup and to do home delivery for them. We started really promoting our curbside pickup and home delivery starting in October,” Moshier said.
Moshier says 50% of sales during the holiday season came from in-store purchases, while the other half were spent online.
“We do have an online website that people were shopping with us from other areas of the country, as well, so it really did boost us to keep us where we wanted to be for the holiday so that was a huge blessing to be able to have that online traffic,” Moshier said.
Next door in the Barracks Shopping Center at Oliva, the same was true for this small business.
“Fortunately, we do have some very loyal customers, and then people do know us word of mouth and on Instagram, as well,” Oliva Assistant Manager Caula Wells said.
Wells says their curbside pick up and online ordering system has been carrying them through the pandemic.
“People came into the store, we did have an eight-person limit, but we also did have people order online in the curbside. It’s definitely a lot steadier, so that’s a good thing,” Wells said.
Both Moshier and Wells say they miss the day to day interactions with their customers and hope the vaccine will bring back the old way of doing business very soon.