I invite you to Listen to my radio interview here: Artique on our Local Lionize Radio Station
and read my very first blog post update on how Artique Designs is handling the hardships of Covid-19 and why it is SO IMPORTANT to SUPPORT LOCAL!
Hi everyone, My name is Dana. I am the owner of Artique Designs an eclectic art/thrift shop located on route 63 in Harleysvile, PA. Artique is not like other retail stores you may visit. Since opening 2014, at the age of 22, I knew I wanted my business to serve as a community resource. I wanted to offer this beautiful town that I was raised in, a space that encourages neighbors to interact and inspire one another while participating in therapeutic art and self expression. Artique Designs is a combination of everything I love - unique art, music, vintage/thrifted treasures, costumes, community, activism and so much more. We sell free spirited, vintage and seasonal apparel and showcase local handmade products. We host DIY classes, free art and music nights and community support groups for people in need and donate our time, inventory and resources to important local non-profits in the area.
Tell me about how you felt when you first heard about the lockdown?
I was devastated. It's not easy running a small business to begin with, every dollar spent at our stores help keep the lights on. You have to be completely dedicated to its operation. Over the years, there have been times where I questioned whether I would be able to make enough to stay in business and pay my bills… but I NEVER thought there would be a day where I would be forced to close my doors because of a pandemic. The first week I cried and cried, I didn't feel like myself. I felt fear of the unknown. I had to ask myself important questions like “How do i plan on continuing despite this major issue” I’ve grown really close bonds to my customers and look forward to having a free cup of coffee with them, hugging them and hearing about their lives. Not being able to operate normally has kept me from seeing them, so that really hurts on top of everything.
How has your business been effected by the recent lockdown?
I’ve had to shut down my physical location for the time being until it is deemed safe to operate normally again. January and February are the hardest months for retail sales in general even before this pandemic. April and spring weather brings in customers that have been in hibernation for the winter months. People who are normally excited to get outside and grab lunch with a friend and go shopping are now having to stay home. Just one prime example of how I have been negatively impacted is that I sell prom dresses. Because of the pandemic, schools are canceled for the remainder of the year, which means no prom. I have hundreds of dresses just sitting in inventory that I can't do anything with.
How have you (or people your industry/agency) recently adjusted business operations?
Luckily for me, I had already begun working on an online store last year. When it comes to my business, I am completely self taught… I’ve been slowly teaching myself how to build a professional online store over the past year which hasn't been easy. An online store is like operating a whole other business itself. It was hard juggling the physical store while trying to learn the layout of a website, shipping etc. This lock down has given me the much needed time and energy to pursue the online store. it's been my saving grace - without it I’m not sure my business would have survived this. You can visit our new fancy website at www.shopartique.com we offer shipping or porch pick up. I’ve also been getting creative doing Facebook Live sales bi-weekly where we showcase the shops inventory online in an interactive video chat atmosphere and started an 'Artique VIP' facebook group that offers to members such as first looks at new inventory, special sales and more. You can find that here : https://www.facebook.com/groups/1554515318044064/
How have you seen neighboring business adjusting to the lockdown?
I’ve seen a lot of restaurants change to take-out menus and local businesses doing shipping and local pick-up/delivery like myself. It's important for people in the community to help us out so that we can stay in business. Liking and sharing our social media pages and posts, subscribing to our websites, inviting friends and family to do the same is a cost-free way of helping your local businesses. It is a very important time to do this so that when it's over more people are aware of our businesses and come support us to help us back on our feet.
Tell me about small business drive and reliance.
After owning a business for 6 years, I have come to know that you must have these things to keep a business running. Almost all of the wonderful business owners I know are very passionate about what they do and will do whatever it takes to continue. Starting a business at 22 while my friends were still at college was extremely hard. I lost a lot of relationships because i knew if I wanted to make it work I had to give it 100% of my attention. That's why it's so important to be passionate and love what you do, you have to remember why you're doing it in the first place because to start and keep a business running it is constant work and consuming. There are times when I’ve worked so late at the shop I’ve fallen asleep mid task at 1am. Small business owners do everything in their power to push through any set back they may face. Every failure, a learning opportunity to be better than the day before. As for me, I refuse to let this virus destroy everything I've worked so hard for all these years and I will do whatever it takes to stay in business.
Shed insight given the two examples below:
A community rich with culture and passion, the type that seems to feature strong small business networks and alliances... the type that seems to have more self-employed residents and members of the community than employed by a large corp.
A community that may be heavily dependent on a local big corp for employment of the majority of its citizens.
Which model shows to be better for its citizens/the country/the world and why?
The question itself says it all. Who wants a community based on dependence on large corporations? Where one person sits on top at the expense of its citizens hard work? Artique's main purpose is to celebrate our community's uniqueness with culture, passion, creativity and encourage self-reliance. By selling the handmade products of my neighbors, I help them pay their bills by expressing themselves doing something they love. What could be more precious than that? Small business owners are leaders that take their passions into their own hands and create something meaningful out of it. While, communities that work for a few big corporations are following orders for someone else. When you form networks and alliances with your neighbors you strengthen the entire community. These bonds help develop important character traits and we build each other up by sharing experiences and knowledge with each other that you just don't get at impersonal large corporations. Shout out to my local business support group "The Small Shop Society" where we work together to grow our roots here in the community and bring such unique products and services to the people of our area.
To see who is our little community network check out our group facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSmallShopSociety/
Why is it important to support local?
When you support local you are supporting your neighbor, who in return will support their neighbor and so on. It is important to support local because it keeps people's hard earned money flowing in their area. For example, when someone shops at my business and spends $50, I then go to another small business in the area and spend that $50 on items I need. You have not only helped one person, but TWO. This mindset helps everyone get what they need while keeping the money here building up our communities resources.
Thank you for taking the time to support your local businesses!
Stay safe everyone <3
Dana, of Artique Designs