Whistler Retail During Covid-19
Whistler's famous sweater shop has been the visitors and locals favourite for cozy sweaters and accessories for over 26 years.
I have owned and operated Amos & Andes, The Whistler Sweater Shop, in the same location since 1994. Amos & Andes specializes in the finest traditional wool sweaters from Canada, Norway, Ireland, Peru, and Serbia. In the summer months, we also offer casual ladies’ wear.
Whistler’s oldest store-front establishment, in the same location, with the same owner. We have been part of Whistler’s growth, and seen many changes over the years, Covid-19 being by far the biggest challenge to date.
I thought it be interesting to write about the challenges 2020 has brought us. I wonder what it will be like to read back in a one, 2 or 10 years even.
The pandemic started for us in early March when my husband came home with a flu from a Toronto convention. My staff urged me not to visit the shop, to avoid transmitting anything to them or our customers.
My husband went to the testing cubical in the waiting area at Whistler Health Clinic, a few days later we discovered his swab was negative. However our manager decided to stay home with her husband who was self-isolating due to his compromised immune system.
We were acting ahead of the trend, all the decisions were hard.
Friday March 13th, Vail closed the mountain (which I supported).
We had a surge in sales as customers were actively choosing to support local business.
We were reacting to every new situation one minute at a time.
After more and more troubling signs, closing the store just seemed the right thing to do. After 26 years, the doors were closed and staff laid off. It was an emotional time.
I immediately started working on the Amos & Andes website, whistlersweatershop.com and managed new spring inventory that had already arrived.
The world has stopped travelling internationally. The resort of Whistler has no international visitors. It feels strange!
Someone told me, that based on our sewage quantity Whistler has had a 'Covid - 19' population of 14,000 since mid March. It feels like that number started to fluctuate up at weekends in early June.
We needed to think outside the bubble
I promoted online specials to our email list and on social media. We started a new service and sales campaign of “Retail Therapy, Delivered to Your Door”. We deliver (with gloves and mask) selected items for customers to try on at home. 24hrs later we collect what they do not want to keep. The sales transaction is handled online with Shopify. The returned items are isolated, then steamed before being offered to a new customer. This campaign helped for a little while, but our small, struggling resort town market was quickly saturated.
May 01, we started opening the door for 2 hours a day. Our first employee returned.
Today, June 22nd we extended our hour to 12:00 - 5:00 daily.
We have a fantastic selection of sweaters arriving in the fall, keep an eye on our website.
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