The coronavirus pandemic spreading around the world is leaving economic destruction in its path. Restaurants across St. Clair County and Lambton County have closed. Local auto showrooms are closed. Small businesses of every sort have been shuttered. However, clothing stores that were already struggling may feel the long-term impact even more than others.
Retailers were poised to sell their spring line of clothing, but they still have much of their winter clothing in stock. With schools and businesses closed and social gatherings and large celebrations essentially banned, the impact is compounded. Birchwood Mall in Fort Gratiot wass already reeling from the closure of many of its larger anchor stores, and small stores in downtown Port Huron, like The Closet, MI Passion, District 43, and Patrick & James were just starting to get established.
An interview this week with Anita Varty of MI Passion revealed the creative measures shop owners are putting in place to stay afloat. Anita is increasing her social media presence, taking online orders, and doing curbside or porch delivery for her customers. Her grand re-opening was interrupted by the pandemic, but she is staying positive and looking forward to welcoming customers into her new space at 217 Huron Avenue next to Kate’s Downtown.
Karen Palka, from The Closet by A Beautiful Me, a specialty dress store in downtown Port Huron, told WGRT that she remains optimistic that business will bounce back. Her team is also focusing on increasing The Closet’s social media presence and encouraging the business owners and community members around them. The Closet will be showcasing several nonprofits in their window display to promote community spirit and encourage gratitude.
Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand