RAPID CITY, S.D. — With many local businesses being affected by the pandemic, it’s become sink or swim for some.
“We kept selling online and advertising and promoting our items on Facebook and Instagram; that’s the only way I stayed afloat,” said Sam Boldon, the Owner of Giddy Up & Go Boutique.
Whether a businesses was reliant on their website during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“We created an online store which was really popular within the Rapid City area,” said Adriane Grabinski, the General Manger of Plato’s Closet in Rapid City.
“We don’t do much online sales,” said Mark Bachman, Co-Owner of Seeley Clothing. “We think that people – for our merchandise and our clientele – would rather come into the store and try things on and feel the merchandise, and so we don’t have much presence online except for a basic website.”
Local businesses in the Black Hills were forced to call an audible in the way they do business. Some found that regardless of how they adapted, their customers still felt comfortable with the old-fashioned way of shopping.
“We had a lot of locals shopping online and getting it shipped to them, but we did find that more customers preferred that normal experience with shopping, so we did kind of stay open throughout the whole pandemic,” Grabinski said.
Plato’s Closet opened a separate online shopping website, which helped the business while its doors were closed.
But for places like Seeley, a fine clothing store for men that relies on face-to-face and personal interaction with its customers, their business plan was in trouble.
“That’s pretty much the backbone of our business – creating friendships – and people trust us for what we sell,” Bachman said. “We do take personalized shopping real serious. Pretty much everyone that walks in, I know ’em or my dad knows ’em, and if we don’t know ’em we want to get to know ’em before they leave.”
With businesses having other options for making sales, many customers were uneasy to visit – making them shop online. This put Seeley’s Clothing in a hole that it eventually dug itself out of.
Although Bachman’s business has been coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no overstating what it took.
That’s when local customers came to help their neighbors during a time of need in the holiday season.
“Typically, Christmas isn’t as busy for us but this year, we did see an increase in customers,” Grabinski added.
Grabinski also explained that roughly 200 more people shopped online during the pandemic, helping the store stay open.
As Bachman puts it, his business is grateful for the community support while also relying on the word-of-mouth advertising approach.
“It seems like the people are supporting the local merchants this year because our Christmas business has been really good,” Bachman said. “We’re just hoping that our customers would come in and support us and they have, so we’re very appreciative for the business that we’ve had for Christmas.”
Local businesses able to adapt and overcome to keep their livelihoods afloat.