the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated small businesses across the country, but local retailer Patina, a business that has been serving the Twin Cities for over 25 years, has continued to be a hub for all things home décor, gifts and more through their online order services.
During the midst of the pandemic in 2020, Patina experienced shipping delays and vendor relations falling through more than ever due to the pandemic’s economic consequences.
“It’s been challenging for a lot of retailers,” says Karin Tappero, district manager of Patina. “I think in terms of support from our community, early on when everything opened back up in Minnesota, it was really important for not only our customers but our team to feel like they were coming back to a safe environment.”
Before Minnesota implemented a mask mandate, Tappero says Patina changed its own policies to require masks for workers and for shoppers.
“We’ve been able to keep everyone safe and healthy which is a blessing,” Tappero says.
And though the store once had to shutter its doors due to quarantine mandates, Patina reopened with the sole options of curbside pickup and shipping. In order to implement the new services, the Patina team had to create a website, which Tappero says was not previously necessary, since the business has always thrived off the local community and tended to attract new customers via word-of-mouth.
Before the newly created website was live, Tappero says she received multiple emails from customers asking if they could purchase gift cards; other emails inquired about other ways to help during the shutdown.
Though Patina has had success with the online ordering services, Tappero says in-person retail shopping has been picking back up, partially since the easing of government restrictions.
“[The Minnesota] governor has done a really good job of communicating to the public that retail [shopping] is a safe thing,” Tappero says.
Patina will continue to keep its online ordering option available, since it has allowed more accessibility for customer purchases and has opened up inventory to new customers who haven’t shopped prior to the pandemic.
“The curbside and shipping options are still something we want to offer for those people that are either apprehensive or it’s just a convenience for them,” Tappero says. “We want to offer a great experience for a wide audience.”
Although the online version of the store has helped keep the shop running, word-of-mouth has been, and will continue to be, Patina’s strong suit when it comes to bringing in new business.
“We want to feel like we are part of the community and, not only, have new people discover us every day, but look forward to seeing the same people come in week after week,” Tappero says. “Because we know they live down the street or they can come in with their dog and get a treat.”
The past few months, Patina has finally started to see in-store foot traffic getting back to normal.
“Things are looking up everywhere in the world,” Tappero says.