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Clothing boutiques rebounding with virtual sales

Co-Op on Camargo creates excitement on Instagram
Posted at 9:45 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 10:54:51-04

Small shops have been devastated by the COVID-19 shutdowns, with many of them losing close to 100 percent of their sales, causing them to lay off employees.

But some are now rebounding, thanks to virtual sales on Facebook and Instagram.

The Madeira store Co-Op on Camargo's brick-and-mortar store is closed, but the business is thriving virtually, thanks to two savvy women and social media.

Rachel Hamilton and Jill Haney are part owners of the store, which was closed for a month due to Governor Mike DeWine's stay-at-home order.

Hamilton said they were facing the prospect of losing everything they had built over the last five years.

"Everyone is down 75 to 90 percent in sales," Hamilton said. "We were worried about the future."

"We were very scared," Haney said. "We had a conference call to figure out what could we do during the shutdown."

Virtual store brings back business

Hamilton and Haney decided to open a virtual store on Instagram and Facebook, and business is slowly starting to bounce back.

They posted to their 1,500 local followers that they are now open for business again, for shopping from home.

They photograph merchandise, write a review, create a post, and feature a different blouse, sun dress, or pair of leggings each day. Within minutes it worked.

"We got an immediate response from a customer who shops with us frequently," Hamilton said.

The items are delivered to the customer's door in a stylish bag the same afternoon.

One customer was so thrilled they had reopened that she didn't care what she got.

"She texted and said, 'Pick out some shoes, pick out some clothes that I like, and let me know how much,'" Haney said.

The women said they've learned a lot over the past couple of weeks, and they said once they are open again to customers, they are going to continue selling on social media in the hopes of making their business stronger.

"It's a nice way for them to see, even if they are not getting out and about, what we have to offer," Haney said.

Several Over-the-Rhine boutiques in Cincinnati, such as Idlewild and Sloane, are now doing the same thing, even throwing Thursday afternoon Instagram parties to show off their collections, until they can reopen their doors.

Here in Madeira, Haney and Hamilton are hopeful for the future, and as a sign in the store says, they constantly remind themselves that "tomorrow is a brand new day."

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