AMBER MARIE & COMPANY
With so many retailers facing similar challenges right now, we encourage you to “Share Your Story” so that retailers in the industry can connect with one another and share experiences and tips with one another.
AMBER MARIE & COMPANY is a Tulsa-based retailer that offers “everything you need to live your lifestyle to the fullest from gifts and apparel, jewelry and accessories, to interior decor and design.” This business was even voted Tulsa’s Best Lifestyle store. Owner, Amber Welch, shared that the brick-and-mortar store has re-opened since the pandemic closure and has experienced positive feedback from customers.
During the pandemic, AMBER MARIE & COMPANY did see a rise in online sales and communicated with customers through social media platforms, emails and by phone and continues to currently reach clients with these methods.
Welch relayed details on how her business adjusted in the current retail climate and even shared some tips.
Since the pandemic closures and re-openings, how have you adjusted your business model?
Amber Welch (AW): During the pandemic I worked twice as hard to bring in business. We focused on selling models that were web based and social media based. Pouring more hours into our website than ever before, we encouraged our customers to get familiar with our website and delivered curbside! Now, we are reaping the rewards. Business is up 80% over last year in our retail location, and our online has taken off!
Customers are spending more time at home, and in their homes. That’s GREAT news for us as we are heavy into seasonal decor and interior design. Candles have been huge for us as well — everyone wants their home to smell delicious as they spend more time there!
It was certainly challenging when our stores were forced to close, but we started to focus on other ways to engage our customers during that time to stay relevant. We had a daily noon Bible study where we all talked about the challenges we faced daily and prayed for our nation. We hosted Thursday Night Live every Thursday Night and utilized Comment Sold to assist us with the sales process. We luckily had started this a year before the pandemic, but this was a huge help to get us through it!
I was able to sell off all of my spring product and not be left with anything Spring when we reopened in May. We also came up with a super fun game night called BLINGO via Facebook Live.
What special services did you implement during the pandemic that you plan to continue moving forward?
AW: We are so fortunate to have a fantastic team that is customer service oriented. Each and every member of our team understands going above and beyond for our customers. We are continuing curbside delivery for our customers. We have an in-store pick up option on our website that allows for customers to shop in the comfort and protection of their homes. This has worked great as many customers cruise our website when they can’t sleep, or while they are adding finishing touches to their home decorating.
Please describe how are you communicating with your customers about any new services, policies, procedures or offerings.
AW: Communicating with our customers remains a top priority for us. We have installed a flat screen TV behind our counter and have produced a silent slide show that talks about all of our upcoming events and specials. Social Media is also a huge communication tool. We utilize an insider facebook group with our customers that keeps them in the know of all events Amber Marie. Also, weekly emails are a must!
Another new idea we have started are social influencer private parties. We invite local social influencers to our store for a private shopping event. We have a professional photographer there to take amazing photos of the influencers in our adorable clothing selections and the influencers get a discount to use during the event and professional photos of themselves to put on their social media accounts.
What have been the positives of re-opening your store?
AW: Our customers are connected with us! During the pandemic and all of the Facebook live videos, customers grew to know us personally and we grew to know their names. They are happy to be out and try to establish some sense of normalcy.
What have been some of the challenges of re-opening?
AW: The greatest challenge in re-opening was having enough staff. With the unemployment benefits, it was a challenge to find and hire more staff to keep up with the new demand.
Are you offering any charitable giving products for shoppers to help pandemic relief funds, first responders, medical personnel, the local community or other nonprofits?
AW: Currently we are working with two charities this Christmas season. Local charities are having a difficult time with fundraising because of COVID-19. Knowing this, we have reached out to local organizations to offer our assistance. We are kicking off a Christmas campaign offering “Letters from Santa.” With a donation to our local organization called Little Lighthouse, children are able to drop off a letter to Santa in our beautiful Santa mailbox. In turn, we personally write a letter from Santa and send it to the North Pole, Alaska to be returned to the child’s home address. With each hand-crafted letter from Santa, we include a little dash of glittery north pole snow!
Another fundraising event we are offering with the Salvation Army of Tulsa is a private shopping event. Each year the Salvation Army has a huge luncheon with over 500 attendees for a silent auction. Due to COVID, they are not hosting the silent auction luncheon, so we decided to step in and help. Shoppers can join our in-person shopping event on a Sunday where the store is open exclusively for them to shop, or shop online using a coupon code for the Salvation Army. The coupon code allows us to donate 20% of all sales back to the Salvation Army. Also, 20 % all sales made during the in-person shopping event will be donated back to the Salvation Army! God has blessed our business so much during these trying times and we know that it is our privilege to do what we can to give back.
What is the most requested item in your inventory right now?
- Bogg Bags
- Face Mask
- Home Design Consultations
What helpful tips would you like to share with other retailers during these unprecedented times?
AW: We have a saying at my church we have adopted to our business: “To reach the people no one is reaching, we have to do the things no one is doing.” Finding creative ways to offer service and entertainment to our customers! Customers want to shop, but they also want to be entertained, valued, and appreciate. Do the things no one else is doing … get out of your comfort zone. Just like an athlete, when you’re not training and practicing your sport think to yourself — your competition probably is.