In the midst of so much chaos and uncertainty, salons, retail shops, and personal service providers are quickly maneuvering to reach customers online. Between tough decisions around staffing and anxiety about making rent and payroll, the small business owners of the District are doing what they do best: getting creative.
The lightbulb went off for Libby Diament of the Wharf’s Diament Jewelry when a friend asked for a surprise care package. “I went to summer camp and used to love getting care packages. It makes you feel like a kid again. It’s something small that can bring some sunshine to this unknown time,” Diament tells City Paperover email. “Everyone is loving the idea that this supports small business while raising the spirits of say, a nurse friend. It’s a win-win for everyone. To support small businesses, it can be anything from just checking in, liking a post, placing an online order, or purchasing a gift card! It all matters!”
Rewild, a plant and flower studio in Shaw, is offering free delivery or curbside pickup on all orders. They’re also adding virtual plant consultations for those who want guidance choosing plants based on their home’s light and decor. “A lot of our interactions with customers in store involve lengthy conversations about how much light they’re getting and where they’d like to see plants. We’d like to continue to bring that value to them even though we can’t do it in person,” says co-owner Lily Cox. Follow Rewild on Instagram and Facebook for updates on virtual consultations.
Ilisa J. Gould runs a personal shopping service and by-appointment-only vintage emporium off U Street NW and pops up around the District as the Golden Underground. It doesn’t get much more hands-on and personal than physically dressing another person, so she’s offering digital closet cleanses and wardrobe consulting for the next few weeks. $50 gets you a 45-minute virtual appointment during which Gould will help style outfits with items already in your closet, create a capsule wardrobe, or help decide what to donate once it’s safe to do so again. For the full experience, make a future appointment through Instagram, Facebook, or by texting (301) 602-3649.
Shaw skincare and makeup business Ivy Wild is offering free shipping on orders over $50, online gift cards, and care packages at 3 different price points–all of which are 15% the usual price of the products. “Other huge ways people can support businesses like ours is to engage with us online and share our content with friends–as a local biz, moving more of our business online and expanding our community there is going to be vital,” says owner Rachel Mulcahy. Keep up with Ivy Wild on Instagram, where they are planning to host virtual tutorials.
Amira El-Gawly, founder of workplace culture agency Manifesta, is offering leadership coaching and remote culture audits over Zoom. She has also created a 10 pages-and-counting Google doc listing area small businesses that’s making the rounds on Instagram. “Our Ask: In every spending decision you make, you have the chance to change someone’s life for the better. Please shop small. Please shop local. Please support the businesses most affected right now,” the document begins. “Most of the entries represent businesses I know or support personally, or who I follow closely,” El-Gawly toldCity Paper via email. I am constantly checking in on the document and ensuring it’s easy-to-read, consistent and is fair to each business. However, this is a crowdsourced document so it’s the responsibility of every consumer/buyer to do their due diligence. Truthfully — there’s not much to validate here. These are real small businesses, artists and freelancers who need support.”
Below you’ll find our own evolving list of local businesses and ways to support them from the comfort of your quarantine. Do you know of a small business whose pandemic plan should be included? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DC Improv is selling $20 “venue credit” gift cards worth $25 to go towards your next ticket purchase.
- District Derp, an online art gallery and cannabis dispensary, is offering no-contact delivery of their dog-made paintings that come with a treat.
- Femme Fatale DC has gift cards available online for use when their womxn-focused shop and gathering space re-opens. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook to get updates on their initiatives, including a resources guide for creatives and freelancers, virtual events, and entertainment suggestions.
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords is delivering books through Postmates and offering curbside pickup (call them at (202) 387-1400 or email at email@example.com to place your order and let them know when you’ve arrived). You can also order the old-fashioned way here and have books shipped.
- Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnots is giving a 10 percent discount on gift cards, which are now available online.
- Proper Topper has put together a collection of Proper Picks (gift kits to cheer, pamper, entertain, and provide comfort) that can be ordered online and shipped or picked up curbside at their Cathedral Commons location. Gift cards are also available online. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook for gift picks of the day.
- Songbyrd Vinyl Cafe has made it possible to shop for records, gift cards, and merch online.
- Suns Cinema has a Patreon that offers exclusive daily content to supporters and a weekly radio show still going strong despite the theater going dark.
- Supreme Core Cidery delivered dozens of orders to homebound revelers on St. Patrick’s Day. The success inspired a plan for cold four-pack and growler deliveries from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Since the cidery is near the National Arboretum, they hope people will stop by for cider to-go and then get some social-distance fresh air.
- Tattoo Paradise DC has merch and gift cards for sale online.
- Tribute, a clothing showroom and gathering space in Adams Morgan usually emphasizes their in-person experience, but they’re moving all of their unique vintage (and new) treasures onto their online store. They’ve also added an online gift card option and are encouraging shoppers to scroll their Instagram and inquire about items that catch their eye.
- Trim Hair Salon has added online gift cards. If you’re planning to get in the chair over the next few months, go ahead and get your appointment on the books to give your stylist peace of mind that things will pick back up.
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