TISDALE — With the reopening of non-essential businesses, many businesses find themselves readapting to operating under the pandemic.
Heather Mievre, owner of Valle' Men's Wear, said she is taking appointments and walk-ins now, after reopening on May 19.
“Loss of sales is tremendous, eight weeks of loss of sales is a tremendous loss,” Mievre said
Valle’ Men’s Wear is a shop that specializes in men’s wear, dress and casual attire.
“We should have been open way sooner, because I don’t have 25 people in my clothing store. I only have one or two people at a time anyway.”
Even before the closure of non-essential businesses, Mievre said fewer people have been coming in for new men’s wear due to the cancellation events.
“It’s grad that got me alive this week,” she said. “It’s grad season so they are doing virtual grads so they still want pictures, and families want family photos so there’s still purchasing for grad.”
Graduation is one of the bigger seasonal events that boost Valle’ Men’s Wear’s profits through the selling of formal wear, along with weddings, family gatherings, formal events and family photos.
Mievre said graduation photos were something she had expected to happen this year, pandemic or not.
“I assumed most parents would want to still have family photos, it’s a special occasion regardless.”
While many graduates are still looking at wearing formal clothes, the evolution of graduation ceremonies to online has had an impact on guests that would otherwise need formal attire.
“It’s going to affect sales, most definitely. We’re not going to get the dads, and you’re not going to get all the guests going.”
Mievre said she won’t know the full impact on sales until after June, when graduation ceremony season ends.
Another big event for the businesses is wedding ceremonies, which fewer people are doing due to the pandemic.
“Weddings are your big thing in the summer from May until December – weddings and wedding parties,” Mievre said.“Are you going to have a wedding, and have 10 people at it, or are you going to hold it next year? Next year might be a real boom, you don’t know.”
To help ensure the store remains virus-free, Valle’ Men’s Wear is limiting try-ons, steaming any attire that has been tried on, and is asking customers to bring a pair of socks for trying shoes on.
Mievre said these precautions haven’t been too difficult to implement due to the nature of her business and how many customers she receives.
“I don’t have 15 or 20 people in here. I have two in the morning and two in the afternoon so it’s five minutes for me for now,” she said. “But I do still have to steam those shirts people try on and be a little more cognizant of all that. You have to be aware, ‘Yes I got to do this, I got to go to that, I got to clean those door handles.’”
If Mievre could get a message out of the community, she said it is to support your local businesses.
“If you’re going to support local, ‘gee we care about our local’ then you better walk the walk into your small stores whether it be your coffee shops, or your giftware, clothing.”
Norma-Jean Little, owner of My Little Boutique, in Tisdale, agreed with that message.
My Little Boutique specializes in dress wear and casual, with the goal of supplying fresh flirty designs to the women of today.
Little said if any boutiques stay open in the coming months, it’s only because local people support them.
“My out of town customers I’m not really worried about, it’s the in-town customers who need to come back to our downtown street merchants,” Little said. “People always leave town to shop, it doesn’t matter where you go, people are always running to the city because we’re very mobile.”
She said the closure of business for the last eight weeks have left her missing one of the busiest times a year for her boutique: April and May.
“April and May can be as busy as Christmas for me,” Little said.
“We have a huge dance thing in town, Dance Experience. I mean, a thousand people go through town on that weekend. You had rodeo, you have Easter – Easter is a big weekend for me.”
She said that she finds the cleaning protocols affects a significant portion of her day.
The dressing room must be cleaned each time a person uses it, and each piece of clothing that has been tried on must be taken back and steamed after each customer.
“I work alone, I have nobody hired, so my work has doubled,” Little said. “I don’t mind doing any of that so long as people are here and supporting us, and want us and need us, and I think that’s all we want to know. Did you miss us? Do you want us? Do you need us? Because it was a long two months.”