8 Ways To Shop During Quarantine

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During these unusual times of stay at home orders and mandates for social distancing, we’re being asked and sometimes forced to stay away from not only people we love but also activities we love.  For many off us, shopping is therapeutic, that’s why they call it “shopping therapy.”  For others, shopping is a way we connect with our friends and family as a fun activity that we can do together.  The silver lining I see to the Covid19 crises is that it is forcing all of us to look for new ways to do the things we have always loved.  Maybe you are using Face Time or Marco Polo to stay connected to your friends and family.  Maybe you are using Zoom to have meeting with your team or, like me, doing bible studies over Zoom.  As each week passes and we become more and more aware of the things we miss from our normal lives, we are becoming more willing to think outside of the box and learn new ways of still doing the things we love.

If shopping is one of those things for you , this blog post will give you 8 ways to get creative and be a savy shopper during quarantine. Here goes:

  1.  Use Your Favorite Boutique’s Online Store:  Many boutiques already had an online presence prior to Covid19, and like us, are now ramping up their offerings by increasing their online inventory.  Some boutiques that weren’t online, are now getting there.  Shopping from a small business online is a little different than shopping with, say, LL Bean.  First of all, the very nature of a boutique is to offer exclusive items that customers can purchase without worrying about seeing 15 other people in town wearing the same item.  Using my boutique, as an example, the most we buy of a single style is 6 pieces.  Quite often it might be only 4.  As a result, there is a limited supply and once the item is gone, it won’t be re-ordered.   Thus, like shopping in store, if you see something you like, grab it! It may not be there next week.  Also, boutique owners know their products: how they fit, how they wash, what they match.  Just because you are using an online venue, doesn’t mean you can’t call that boutique up on the phone and ask questions.  Many times I have worked with customers over the phone who used our online store as a online catalog and then asked me what else I had in the store that would complete the look they were trying to achieve.  In the end, the sale was a combination of online offerings and other items that I suggested.
  2. Shop by phone: If you are savy and know the brands that you love, it is quite easy to shop by phone.  Usually, boutiques carry clothing lines that have a consistent fit.  So, that favorite jean that you love, for example, is just a phone call and shipping bag away!
  3. Use Drop Shipping: The financial burden on small businesses has led to strained cash flow and inventory shortages.  As a result, many of my vendors are offering to drop ship items directly to the consumer.  The way this works is you call up your favorite boutique to get a specific item.  If they are out of that item, the boutique can call their vendor, and if they have it in stock, the vendor can ship the item directly to you.  That way, the store owner doesn’t have to invest in inventory he or she might not sell.  It’s a win, win for everyone.  Just ask your boutique if they are offering drop ship.
  4. Shop Via Messenger: Most boutiques can be reached through Messenger, an app that allows for a private conversation very similar to texting.  Yesterday, I did a sale over Messenger with a customer.  She told me what she was wanting, and  I found items that I thought she would like.  I took pictures and sent them to her through Messenger.  She picked the items she liked, and then I called her to complete the purchase.  You can also you Messenger, oftentimes, to ask questions about products or fit for items you find on an online store as well.
  5. Shop Via Live Sales: If you don’t know what a Live Sale is, let me explain.  This is basically virtual shopping where you watch a live video on Facebook of someone showing you items available for purchase. If you see something you want to buy, you comment on the items as they are presented in the Live Sale, and the transaction is completed sometime after the video ends.  It is first come, first served, which ads an element of fun.  This type of shopping comes closest to being able to replicate shopping with your friends.  Live Sales are scheduled and so you can all get together in a group call and watch the live sale together and talk about the things you like and what you should buy.  You can also communicate with each other in the comments while the Live Sale is happening.  It is fun and creates a social shopping experience while still being safe.
  6. Shop Via A Video Chat: You might be familiar with Apple’s app Face Time which allows you to video chat in real time.  This app can also be used to shop at your favorite boutique.  Essentially, you do a video chat with the boutique owner and you can see items you might want to buy right during the chat.  That way, you can give direct feedback and ask questions like, “show me what the back of that top looks like” or “can you show me a close up of that detail on the sleeve?”
  7. Shop By Appointment: Even if your favorite boutique has limited hours or is closed for in-store shopping, many owners might consider letting you schedule an appointment to shop.  This can be done while still practicing social distancing and using safe practices like sanitizing.  Of course, you would never want to request this option if you have been exposed to sick person or are sick yourself.
  8. Personal Shopping: If you have been shopping with a specific boutique for a long time, the owner probably knows you and what you like.  In this case, it is relatively easy for a boutique to offer personal shopping services where you communicate what you are needing and you allow the owner to choose items for you.  These items can then be shipped or picked up.  Even if the boutique owner doesn’t know you, a simple phone consultation can usually produce all the info necessary for he or she to shop for you.

As for my boutique, Fashion Crossroads, I am offering all of these services to my customers.  My online store can be found at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com.  I have been working very hard while my store is closed to in-store shopping to add new merchandise, and I have expanded our online inventory greatly.  Additionally, I am here Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 for shopping by appointment, personal shopping or phone shopping.  I am offering free shipping on orders over $100 or alley way pick up.  Also, I just recently launched a weekly Live Sale every Wednesday night at 8 p.m.  You can see my most recent Live Sale here: 4/1/20 Live Sale.  The next one is scheduled for next Wednesday night 4/8/20 at 8 p.m. To watch live, join our VIP Facebook Group called Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.

Hopefully, this blog post has opened you eyes to ways you can shop that you might not have tried.  During this time, your favorite boutique needs your support!  I encourage you to reach out to them and find out what they are doing to make shopping accessible to you.  If you would like to watch a video with more ideas on this topic, check out my latest YouTube video Ways To Be A Savy Shopper During Quarantine.

pearsonphoto2018_031As a brick and mortar business of 45 years, we’ve only recently added an online store to our mix of offerings.  Today, I am writing this blog post amidst the Covid19 outbreak, and we are having to get creative to still reach you, our customer, in order to allow you to shop while still protecting yourself.  Many of you have shopped with our stores for years and prefer an in store experience because we have always offered knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service.  And, frankly, its just nicer to shop face to face, especially when you are shopping with a local store where the owner is almost always in.

You may be unfamiliar with all of the ways you can shop from us that don’t require you to leave you home.  I wanted to take a minute today to write this blog post for you who fall into that category.  Maybe you are a Boomer and uncomfortable with online shopping or perhaps you just didn’t know we have added an online store to our business.  So, let me tell you what we are doing to help you out.

Many Boomers are on Facebook and love it for the way it helps them keep in touch with their families.  Facebook is also a great platform for “virtual shopping.”  If you are unfamiliar with this term, it essentially means watching a live or pre-recorded video on your favorite business’s Facebook page where the owner or staff member shows you items that are available for purchase and includes the sizes and prices.  Virtual shopping can be almost as good as going into the store because it allows us to tell you about the product….how it fits, what the fabric feels like, what the washing instructions are, and show you, via video, any details like embellishments or embroidery.  You likely know how your favorite brands fit, and this allows you to buy an item without trying it on with more confidence.  Video does a good job of representing the color and texture of the fabric, so there are few surprises.

In response to the outbreak, Fashion Crossroads is offering regular virtual shopping videos on our Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas VIP Group Page (to join, just click this link.” The reason we chose our group page to host these videos is because as you watch the video while its happening, you are able to type in the comments any questions you may have.  For example, you may want to know what we have that matches an item.  While I am doing the video, I can see your comments and answer them right then.  You also can take that opportunity to let us know you would like to purchase the item so we can set it aside for you.  The transaction can be easily completed over the phone and then we can ship the item to you or you can use our alley way pick-up, and we will hand deliver it to your car.  We ship all orders over $100 for free.  We pre-schedule most of these videos so you can know when to tune in.  For example, we are doing a Wednesday Wardrobing video each Wednesday night at 6 p.m. that focuses on new arrivals.  Click this link to see our latest video on the new Sympli arrivals, as an example.

Another opportunity for shopping remotely is using our online store at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com.  One thing that we do differently is that I do most of the modelling.  The reason for this is so you can see the items on a real person and have more confidence in how an item will fit.  I am not 6 foot tall and a size 2.  I am 5’3 and a size 6-8.  Hopefully, you can relate to me a little better than to a professional model.  We also shoot multiple product images and close-ups so you can get an accurate sense of what you are buying.

We have tried to make your online shopping experience as easy as possible.  When you get onto our website, you will see a menu at the top listing several categories like “tops” and “bottoms.”  If you click on these menu items, you will be shown all the tops and bottoms we have available on our online store.  If you scroll down a little on the homepage, you will see our “featured collections.”  These are organized by brand or style to help narrow down the choices for you.  Once you click on an item, you will see all of the photos we have taken of that item as well as a detailed description of it that includes information about the item and how it fits and feels.  We also include styling information to help you choose matches so you can create an outfit.  We then tell you what our customers love about the brand and any specifics you need to know.  Last we include the fabric content and washing instructions.  You will also see the sizes available.

If you aren’t familiar with online shopping, let me take a minute to explain the checkout process you can expect…don’t worry, it is easy.  From the item screen, just click on the button “Add it to your Cart,” you will be taken to a shopping cart page that will tell you the total before shipping and also offer you our payment program through Sezzle that allows you to pay in 4 installments that are interest free and still get your items shipped right away.  It will calculate your payment amount for you, so you know exactly what to expect.  To make your purchase, click the button labeled “Check Out,” and you will be taken to a page where you enter your contact information and have the opportunity to apply any discount codes like our current STUCKINSIDE promotion that gets you 20% off a purchase of $100 or more.  To get your discount, just type the word STUCKINSIDE in all caps into the box labeled “Gift Card or Discount Code.”  Next just click the button that says “Continue to Shipping.”  Our website will calculate the shipping and taxes for you.  Orders over $100 ship free.  Next click the “Continue to Payment” button and you will be taken to a screen where you can enter your credit card information or choose our payment plan through Sezzle.  Last, just click the button labeled “Pay Now.”  That’s it.  We will receive a notification here at the store that an order has been placed, and if it is within our regular business hours, we will start packing it right away.  Often times, we ship out the same day.  And, as an extra precaution, every outgoing package will be sanitized before it leaves the store.

It is still us helping you.  I am modeling the clothes and am the one writing the product descriptions.  It is Elizabeth or I that pull your order and pack them.  Every step of the process goes through our hands.  We will even write you a personal thank you note so you know who packed your order and that we appreciate your business.  If at any point in the process you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 307-237-9221 and we can answer your product questions or help you with the ordering process.  When you order online from us, you have 30 days to return the item either by mail or bring it into the store.  This gives you plenty of time to receive the item and make sure it is exactly what you want.  If you have a Rewards Card with us, just let me know that in the notes with your order, and I will be sure to apply your points for your order onto your Rewards account.

So you see, it’s still shopping with Fashion Crossroads…just in a slightly different way! I encourage you to give one or both of these shopping methods a try.  This crises shall pass, and when it does weddings, graduations, trips and much more pleasant things will all be waiting for you.  There is no need to have to wait until them to get prepared!