How One Family-Based Business Is Tackling The Ongoing Pandemic
Non-essential businesses were ordered to close at noon on March 24th for two weeks until April 8th. As the pandemic worsened, it was extended until May 4th. Then later until May 24th.
Many businesses were in a state of chaos, looking at the prospect of no income streaming.
Then on May 25th, curbside pick-up was allowed from May 25th until June 7th.
On June 8th, phase two allowed businesses to open following special guidelines. The ultimate challenge was rethinking their approach and finding the necessary procedures to implement in order to re-open.
Many businesses had to consider laying off staff, negotiating with their landlord and suppliers regarding bills to pay.
Around this time, the government rolled out a PPP, a Paycheck Protection Program. Employees also collected an unemployment in addition to an extra $600 a week.
Swanson Jewelers, a family-based business located in Arlington, Massachusetts was hard at work, receiving feedback from other businesses, along with other supermarkets and hardware stores.
Their toughest challenge early on was not having the ability to physically be open. Most customers were used to visiting and having custom design work.
Karen Bursaw, one of the owners of Swanson Jewelers, says, “we were challenged by a limited website for online items to purchase and ship. So, we learned we needed to update our website and add items. We also learned we needed to reach out to customers to let them know we were still there. This meant sending out an email blast to all our customers.”
They also found that using the FaceTime app with customers to show jewelry was beneficial and helped with making sales. Posting relevant information on the Facebook platform was also important in showing how they could help customers and address any concerns.
Swanson Jewelers was also connected to other industry related groups to bounce back ideas.
“We belong to the New England Jewelers Association as well as other industry related groups such as the American Gem Society and the local Chamber of Commerce. We followed what they recommended as well other jewelry stores that we’re friendly with. I think that old cliché, ‘we’re all in this together’ comes to mind,” says David Swanson, the co-owner of Swanson Jewelers.
They went about implementing these new procedures by having temperature checks for staff before opening. They also were having frequent and intensive cleaning through disinfecting all staff and customer touchpoints such as tools, counter tops, door handles, electronics and equipment.
“Ordering of plastic sneeze guard’s, providing hand sanitizer for staff and clients, removal of seating areas since client’s were not allowed to sit and wait for repairs. We’ve had to discontinue in-store, while-u-wait services other than actual shopping,” he replied.
Regarding any positive or unexpected outcomes out of COVID-19 changes, he says, “there has been a pent-up demand for our products following events like birthdays, weddings, universes that were cancelled early-on in Covid. We’re a family-based business and people have been unexpectedly gracious. They seem to want to give local businesses a chance.”
Additionally, employees at Swanson Jewelers found a surprisingly new trend in all of this. With people spending more time at home, they had taken the time to clean out their jewelry boxes and brought them to local shops to have them sold or re-purposed. A sizeable increase of unique custom pieces have been discovered from the past several months.
Going forward, Swanson Jewelers is staying optimistic that customers will continue to support local businesses despite the transition to online retail. Mrs. Bursaw says, “our strength in a nutshell is that we are a small, local, long standing, family business. There are many benefits to this. First, customers like to support their community businesses who have been there for them through the years. Customers trust us because they know us. There has been an outpouring of genuine support and concern for us, both as a business and personally.”