The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on small businesses, yet several downtown Rogers retail shops are quickly adjusting to the current economic and health challenges with new offerings, new online sales platforms and continued opportunities to offer exceptional customer service. These adaptations are allowing them to remain viable as they continue to respond to the needs of their customer base during a time when people are eager to support small, locally owned companies.
Woof & Wander, a canine pantry and outfitter store, is open for business but added new restrictions regarding physical access to the store, temporarily discontinued use of their self-service dog wash stations and launched a new e-commerce website. Shop owners, Naomi Hashimoto and Lindz Dolan are making a genuine effort to safely support their community of four legged friends during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are providing an individualized and curated virtual walkthrough--by phone or using Facetime—of the store to continue meeting their customers’ needs.
“We have always been a go-to source for questions regarding nutrition and holistic advice for our pet parents and we want to continue to be that source,” shared Hashimoto. “Because of the COVID-19 situation, we have had to get creative on how we convey that information to clients.” Today, Woof and Wander is launched their online store and are promoting curbside pickup as well as local delivery within a 7 mile radius of their downtown Rogers location. They are encouraging their customers to continue to ask questions through Facebook messenger, email and phone. “We miss visits from our four-legged friends, but we love seeing them through the car windows,” commented Hashimoto. “We decided early on to put the health of our community before the money we could have been earning and will continue to prioritize safety as we feel our way through this unknown space that we all have found ourselves,” she continued.
The Dotted Pig is a popular downtown Rogers boutique where shoppers find gourmet food items, lake life and Razorback decor, party supplies, gift baskets and gifts for all occasions and of course pigs. The store is currently closed to walk in customers, but the personal shopping experience they are known for is not deterred during this time of social distancing.
The Dotted Pig Boutique has adjusted to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Owner Sherry Puttkammer and one employee are busy finding creative ways to respond to ongoing customer inquiries and processing purchases. A few things they are doing to adapt to the current economic and health situation include:
- Scheduling FaceTime appointments to provide one-on-one, personalized time to tour the entire store or focus on certain sections
- Offering window shopping where customers remain outside and staff bring merchandise to the window while talking on the phone
- Providing curbside pickup, local delivery and shipping. CURBSIDE PICK UP POLICY: 1) Call when you arrive. 2) Do NOT come to the door - stay with your vehicle as we will come to you. 3) Pop your trunk, hatch or open the car door where you want your packages placed
- Inviting customers to call or text orders
- Quickly launching an e-commerce website.
With a growing customer base from throughout the United States, Puttkammer had been planning an e-commerce website for a few months. “I was working with a web design company for quite a while,” reflected Puttkammer. “However, when the COVID-19 situation happened, I said ‘let’s just get it published and we can finish fluffing it later.’” The web developer had problems syncing the website to Square and reported it could take 2 months to go online. Puttkammer took immediate action and began building her own website. “It has come with a lot of struggles. Technology is my biggest weakness,” she admitted. “But God’s grace managed to get me through this. It is not the pretty site I envisioned--and still needs work--but it IS working!” Puttkammer quickly received online orders from local and out-of-state customers making her efforts worthwhile.
Businesses that have offered online shopping for several years didn’t feel the same immediate challenges that come with launching a new website, but they are still adapting to this new normal with modifications including some that will remain beyond the COVID-19 situation.
Fresh Harvest Tasting Room is a specialty grocery store with two brick and mortar locations. The Eureka Springs shop opened in 2012, the e-commerce store opened in 2013 and the downtown Rogers store opened in 2018. Co-owners Troy Johnson and Steven Ketchersid maintain a robust website that features not only online shopping, but also resources for olive oil chemistry, health and wellness and a recipe blog featuring more than 250 recipes online.
COVID-19 issues have caused the partners to add new customer friendly, health conscious features. Curbside pickup is available at both locations. Because of the great response to the curbside pickup option, this service will continue to be offered beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. They also offer free shipping or orders over $50, (previously it was available for orders above $100). They have also reduced retail store hours to 12-5pm Wednesday thru Saturday and are not currently offering their popular tasting tours or refilling customer containers.
To support locally owned businesses in downtown Rogers during the pandemic, you are invited to see a complete list of businesses on the Go Downtown Rogers merchants association website, www.godowntownrogers.com/. This site provides links to businesses’ social media and websites as well as addresses and phone numbers for each business. We encourage everyone to shop local.