As I write this on April 2, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted life as we know it. The modern, fast-paced, high-tech world we live in has come to a screeching halt. Spring is supposed to be a time of rebirth and renewal and yet here we are, hibernating in our houses. The hardships our nation is enduring are heart wrenching. Yet at the same time, the heroism by healthcare personnel and the dedication of essential industry workers is rallying the nation with a spirit of community and hope.
What does this mean for the gift industry? For small, independent retailers? For makers and manufacturers? Flexibility and resourcefulness will be key to survival for everyone during this tumultuous time. Face-to-face interactions and transactions will need to be replaced with on-line opportunities. Ordering and delivery systems will need to ramp up to make sure customers’ needs are met.
The important thing to remember during this crisis is that there are opportunities for independent retailers who can be flexible, solve problems and act quickly – something big box stores can’t do. Now is the time to use your email list and social media to let your customers know what you can offer them – curbside pickup, shipping, delivery, Facebook video store tours or Instagram Live product demonstrations.
This issue of Gift Shop is full of the latest best-sellers to give your customers a pick-me-up. We are also excited to introduce you to several retailers who are inspiring others with their creativity and resourcefulness, including the winner of this year’s Creative Display Contest, Vicki’s Gifts in Roscoe, Texas. Take a peek inside the well-dressed and friendly shop on page 74.
Now is the time for vendors and buyers to work together to get merchandise in the hands of consumers. Looking ahead, retailers can also start planning for when the ban is lifted and stores can welcome the shoppers back inside. And when this day comes, we want you to be rested and ready with great ideas to make your shops better than ever. Together, we can get through this and come out stronger on the other side. Good luck and stay healthy!