By Chris Clemens
Under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, we are now seeing local Coachella Valley retailers welcoming customers back via curbside service. A welcome sign for many to see after being hunkered down at home for two months, especially the small business owners themselves. While some have offered online ordering, others have been completely closed. We spoke to a few merchants on El Paseo who shared their excitement about getting back to business.
While The Body Deli continued to offer online ordering the past two months with a healthy online client base in place already, those that like to come to the shop in-person have begun placing orders for curbside pick-up now that they can. What has helped, according to Co-owner David Parker of The Body Deli, is providing something extra. “Just offering marginal discounts are not enough, we’ve found that offering a gift with purchase that people find value in, has worked incredibly well.” During this time with the doors closed, The Body Deli created a 75% organic alcohol sanitizer to use in their workstation and store, and now provides it free as a gift with purchase of $50 or more, and with $100 or more the gift also includes a comfortable unisex black face mask, and orders for curbside pickup have been well embraced.
Others have also been busy behind the scenes in absence of customers in-person. Nicole on El Paseo has a new website to showcase their latest fashions, and now has the ability to take orders online, something they did not do in the past. But, that didn’t stop sales with the doors closed as people called orders in, especially when they early on introduced designer-inspired masks, prior to the mandate even. “We were able to fill a need in the community for in-demand masks, and provide sharp looking fashionable ones, that are also very comfortable,” stated Owner Nicole Pascale. They kept in touch with clients through e-mail newsletters and social media efforts, and then via word of mouth people were calling in to get these, including orders from far away folks in Chicago, Hawaii, and other locations.
Another boutique, House of lolo El Paseo, featured their entire store inventory on their website for online shopping, and experienced consistent orders from clothing to home décor, and of course, face masks. “We pivoted entirely to online as we started to see the impact of COVID-19 hitting our communities,” says Owner Laurie Moulton. “Our entire team focused 100 percent on shooting and posting as many products as possible online for both of our locations two weeks before we had to shut down. It was the best decision we could have ever made – our communities and clients have provided amazing support for our small business!” As did The Body Deli, House of lolo offered a value-add to purchases with 20 percent off on all online orders, in effect through May. According to Moulton she and her associates have provided ongoing communication to clients on a consistent basis using email outreach, text messages and calls to check in and offer assistance with any needs.
JC’s Patio Café has offered restaurant takeout service since the closure of dining rooms, and has found his regular patrons supportive. “They want to have social interaction so badly, they thank us for being open and have been very consistent and incredibly generous with gratuities and purchasing gift cards,” said Owner Casey Hutchinson. In preparation for reopening the dining room they have been reformatting the menu to be a disposable placemat for the upcoming “single-use menu” requirement that will go into effect.
If you take a drive down El Paseo now, you’ll see some restaurants and some of the shops have placed window signage with contact information for curbside orders. “This is definitely a very first recommendation we make to retail clients in preparing for reopening and to continue increasing online orders – having window signage is a must for increased business,” said CEO Stephanie Greene of FG Creative, a full-service marketing firm located in The Gardens on El Paseo. “Having represented the El Paseo Shopping District for 20 years, we want to help the merchants as much as possible to reopen AND thrive, and have continued to provide 100 percent support throughout this entire closure to keep them in front of the community as much as possible.”
FG Creative has developed a unique Marketing Retail Reopening Package to assist retailers in most effectively reopening their businesses. With a rich history in the retail industry of 35 years, the team provides a comprehensive evaluation of the store including recommendations for the entry appeal, window signage and messaging, in-store signage and best wording and graphics for welcome and appeal. They also help plan impulse item buys and their positioning, merchandise bundling appeal and movement, ways to create unique displays, and the best locations to draw people into all areas of the store. In addition, marketing material can be reviewed to determine any changes needed considering the ‘new normal’ and recommendations made for improving marketing materials overall.
FG Creative is also working in partnership with PlanIt Printworks of Palm Desert to provide branded, customized signage packages that include window clings, floor decals, banners and other key elements to let customers know the store policies and that wellness is the top priority, and can coordinate creation of these materials for the retailers as well.
“We developed this comprehensive package because we see a great need for these services in this uncertain time, in unchartered territory,” said Greene. “These services can be beneficial in the regular course of business, but especially in this time of crisis when businesses have suffered and need to make a strong come back.”
FG Creative, Inc. opened its doors in 2002 and continues to offer cutting-edge design and effective solutions for a variety of clients both locally and regionally with branding, marketing, advertising, social media, website development and public relations services. The well-rounded client list includes El Paseo Shopping District, El Paseo Jewelers, The Body Deli, J Russell! The Salon, City of Palm Desert, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Desert Cancer Foundation, Dr. Carreon Foundation, Joslyn Center, Palm Desert Aquatic Center, Coachella Valley Women’s Business Center, and others. For more information on FG Creative, Inc., visit www.fgcreative.com or call (760) 449-0803.