Julie McCullough closed her store, Harkensback, last week, before closing was mandated.
“I fought with it because it was changing so drastically each day,” she says. “It went from ‘this isn’t a big deal’ to ten days later, ‘OK I’m adding to the problem, and nobody needs a dress that bad.'”
Dallas County on Sunday night ordered all nonessential businesses to close by 11:59 p.m. Monday as a containment measure for COVID-19. Here’s what that means.
For many Bishop Arts retailers, the loss of income is devastating. January and February typically are their slowest months, and everyone was gearing up for increased sales in spring and summer, McCullough says.
Her business was so good at the corner of Bishop and Eighth that she moved the store recently to a brand-new space on Bishop at Melba. After not having a car payment for eight years, she bought a Dodge pickup last month for her business needs. Her side business, Airbnb rentals, is also a bust.
“I’m so used to having a side hustle,” says McCullough, who opened her first business in Oak Cliff about 15 years ago. “It’s like, ‘OK retail is slow, let me do this, let me do that.’ Now there’s none of that. Every day is a loss. I’m not used to not being busy. But at the end of the day, I have food. I have a roof over my head, and I’m fine.”
McCullough laid off four employees at her store and another four who are sewers at for her fashion line. She helped all of her employees with unemployment paperwork this past weekend, then she cleaned and disinfected her studio in Elmwood.
For now, the fashion designer is going into mask-making. Some of her sewers will begin making protective face masks this week. She plans to offer the masks first to those on the front lines of society — first responders, hospital workers, restaurant and grocery employees — who might be working without masks because of the shortage. But she expects to be able to offer them to the public as well.
The real goal is to keep a few people employed for as long as possible, she says.
We’ll keep you updated on their progress.
“Everything was going so great, and now it’s chaos.”
That’s the word from J.P. Hossley of Neighborhood store and gallery in Bishop Arts.
Hossley and wife, Erin, have owned their store for about eight years and were planning to move to a building they bought in the Design District when their lease is up at the end of April.
They were open by appointment only last week but by Saturday had switched to online only with free shipping and no-contact delivery. Neighborhood is offering 20% off everything in their store, even new furniture orders from Blu Dot and Gus Modern, and they also are offering free no-contact local delivery for items excluding ordered furniture.
Otherwise Hossley recommends buying artwork from local artists, such as Bruce Lee Webb, Haylee Ryan or Niki Dionne. That way, you’re supporting a local business and putting a bit of cash into an artist’s pocket.
The Hossleys also supplement their retail income by running Airbnb rentals. All of their bookings have been canceled, and J.P. figures they will lose at least $10,000 income from that.
“I’m an essential business, right?”
That’s Spinster Records owner David Grover, and he’s kidding, kind of.
“What will we do without records?” he says. “I couldn’t live.”
Spinster was open until Sunday but only allowed a few people into the store at a time. Customers were quizzed about fever and given hand sanitizer upon entering the store, and shop employees were constantly disinfecting.
Now their business will be entirely by internet and mail.
The store has free shipping, no-contact delivery within 10 miles, and these deals: A $10 gift card with any order over $50, a shop T-shirt with any order over $100, and for orders over $200, a gift card and a shirt.
“I’ve delivered two new turntables already,” he says. “A Turntable is a nice diversion. People are trying to think of interesting things to do.”
Grover is also planning to livestream sets from local DJs, accompanied by discounts on some of the records they’re playing.
“It’s terrible because you feel like you’ve done something wrong. You feel like you’ve been irresponsible,” McCullough says. “And I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t been irresponsible.”
Retailers can apply for emergency assistance from the Small Business Administration, although the website has been overwhelmed with applicants since the assistance was announced last week.
The Trump Administration put a freeze on foreclosures and evictions, but it remains to be seen whether that will help retailers stay in business.
Even when the quarantine is over, McCullough says she doesn’t expect our neighborhood to be flooded with tourists and local shoppers again. Even the ones who survive the quarantine will have a long row to hoe.
She says she paid her sales tax that is due in April because it was the right thing to do. But she says she hopes that landlords and tax collectors will be lenient.
“We were all reinvesting in our neighborhood through the success of our neighborhood, and we just want everyone to be human on the other side of this,” she says.
Like all of us, they’re waiting.