Jac’s Boutique is focused on pivoting their business to meet the needs of the North Grenville community.
Owner, Jackie Taylor, made the difficult decision to shut the store a bit earlier in March than was mandated, to keep both her customers and staff safe. As a business owner, she felt torn between wanting to stay open as long as possible, but also knowing that it was safer for everyone if they closed. “We just felt, morally, that shutting down was the best thing to do,” she says.
Thankfully, Jac’s Boutique has a street entrance, so they were allowed to open when the province moved into Stage 2 in June. Even then, Jackie was nervous about opening the store again. “It was kind of nerve wracking, because we were like: Is this going to be safe? And is this the right thing to do? But we knew we had to open.”
Jackie has put all the necessary protocols in place so that she can welcome customers into her store safely. They already had doors on their change rooms, and they built a bar top on their front counter with a plexiglass shield to create a barrier between staff and customers. They wipe down all the surfaces regularly, and steam all the clothing between customers to ensure they remain virus-free.
“We felt more comfortable steaming the clothes than we did setting them aside, because, when you set clothes aside, there is always a chance that it’s going to get touched by something else. So we thought, well, if we steam everything, we know that it’s clean right away.”
Jackie found that the most difficult part of running a predominantly clothing store during a pandemic is not being able to predict the future. They usually predict consumer spending by season; but with the pandemic, this has gone completely out the window. When they closed in March, they had a store full of Spring/Summer wear and they had already ordered all their Fall inventory. “We have to be able to move our Spring/Summer, so that we can pay for the Fall/Winter coming in,” she says. “So that was a little scary.”
To help with this, they created an online store, which was relatively successful. “It definitely wasn’t like when we were open. It was just getting the word out that we did have an online store. Normally, it takes years to build an online store. But, you know, our customers did rally around us and definitely helped us out.”
Although they definitely took a financial hit because of the pandemic, the dedication of their customers has helped the business survive. “We’ve been lucky, because since we’ve been open, our customers have been very supportive.”
With all the things that they had to do to adapt to COVID-19, Jackie has not had a day off since the start of the pandemic. “It’s been nonstop,” she says. It has been a roller coaster trying to predict when they will be busy and ensuring that all their customers know they are taking every precaution to ensure that their experience in the store is safe. “It’s our job to get them to feel that we are cleaning and keeping the store as safe as we know it to be.”
Jac’s Boutique not only sells clothing, from size XS to XXL, they also have lots of other gift-type items, like jewelry, accessories, and even gourmet pop and gummy bears. Jackie also tries to source as much locally as she can, so they can support other small businesses. “Our store is definitely worthwhile coming into quite often, because we are always bringing in new things. Customers are telling us about products we should get. So, I would say we’re not just a clothing store. We’ve got a little bit of everything.”
Jac’s Boutique is not only adapting to running a store in a pandemic, they are also bringing in different products that might help their customers survive the long winters at home. They have already brought in candle making and embroidery kits, and they are thinking about putting together a movie gift package, with items like gourmet pop, candy, and a nice smelling candle. “I think you have to make your business bend to the climate of what it is,” Jackie says. “You have to adapt to it.”
According to Jackie, the best thing that people can do to support them is to continue to shop local, especially going into the holiday season. “We’ve just got to really promote shopping local. I think that’s really important.”
Jac’s Boutique is located at 2727 County Road 43 and is open Monday-Wednesday 9:30am-5:00pm, Thursday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm and Saturday 9:30am-5:00pm. You can also visit them online at www.jacsboutique.com.
Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times