Following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shelter-in-place orders, local businesses are scrambling to take their products and services online now that their storefronts are closed.
Along with restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have been hit hard by COVID-19, retail stores are going to need the support of loyal customers in the weeks and months to come if they are to remain open in the longterm. One way of doing so is to buy gift cards from your favorite store, another is to shop online — some local businesses offer products and services that are particularly suitable in these stressful times. Here are a few worth checking out.
Perlé Sonoma store owner Erica Heald was to celebrate seven years in business this week with a champagne and shopping party. Instead, she had to close her store due to the shelter-in-place order issued last week.
To keep sales going, Heald has taken to her store’s Instagram account—10,000 followers strong–offering video shopping appointments and shipping.
“We’re really trying to do everything we can to stay present and in the forefront,” says Heald.
Some of her video shoppers are out-of-state, many of them tourists, who, after visits to her Sonoma store, became regular online shoppers. Many have contacted Heald offering to make a purchase to support Perlé.
“Since pajamas are now everybody’s daily attire, people are embracing the new outfit,” says Heald. Perlé’s loungewear offerings by PJ Salvage are in demand. The heightened style and comfort of the pieces match what people are seeking right now.
Adding to Heald’s eagerness to re-open her store, is the planned launch of her new business on the Sonoma plaza. The store, Miriad, will be selling accessories such as hats, scarves, wallets and more. Its April 1st opening has been pushed back until the shelter-in-place order is lifted.
“When they say we’re opening, we’re ready to rock and roll,” says Heald.
Perlé Sonoma, 124 W Napa St., Sonoma, 707-935-5800, perlesonoma.com
Getting lost in a good book
Twice Told Books proprietress Rachel Mutterperl is busy answering phone calls, texts and emails even though her store has been closed since March 18. It seems the shelter-in-place order has made many of us more eager to read.
Mutterperl sanitizes her used and new stock, packages selections, and mails them directly to customers.
The Guerneville storekeeper is clear about her mission. “I’m a career bookseller. This is what I set out to do when I was a teenager.”
Since Amazon is focusing their orders on food and medical supplies, independent booksellers who ship out of different warehouses—those of Ingram Book Distributors—are stepping in.
Mutterperl is also working to create a website, twicetoldbooks.com, to streamline the process for online orders.
“Books are essential to survival. In my mind. I’m providing an essential service,” says Mutterperl. “(E-books) don’t provide the same feeling of escape we all need from this crisis … preserving our mental health is as important as physical health.”
Other local independent bookstores, such as Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa, are offering “to-go” book purchases. Call and pay in advance and they will prepare your order for pick up. Check with your local bookstore to see what they are offering.
Twice Told Books, 14045 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville, 707-869-1479.
Treehorn Books, 625 4th St, Santa Rosa, 707-525-1782.
Crafting your cares away
It’s been said, and proven, that knitting is good for your mental health, and Cast Away Yarn is ready to answer the call while we all shelter in place. Their existing website for patterns, place-marker.com, offers a variety of downloadable projects for fiber crafters.
Owners Justine Malone and Cleo Malone have sprung to work posting video tours of their store on Instagram that zoom in on their yarn offerings. The duo will mail orders so those stuck at home without supplies can direct their minds to crafting.
Cast Away Yarn Shop, 100 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-9276, castawayyarnshop.com
Breathing together with yoga
If there ever was a good time to do some deep breathing and gentle movements, it is now. While local yoga studios are temporarily closed, some of them — including Santa Rosa’s Well Sonoma and Soul Yoga — are live-streaming their classes online. They’re also offering Zoom invitations to their classes via their websites and Facebook accounts. Some encourage users to turn on their own cameras so everyone can be in the space together, however digital it may be.
Learning an instrument
Singer-musician Rachel Walters Steiner typically teaches at Petaluma Music Studio, Old Adobe Elementary School and Music To My Ears in Cotati, but now she meets students via her laptop.
It’s important to keep singing, playing and teaching during this time says Steiner, who performs with Latin acoustic and jazz band Manantial and in churches as a soloist. “The use of music to soothe souls is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay.”
Steiner believes maintaining connections is important right now, especially for children. “However we digitize and keep things as much like before (the shutdown) is going to be huge. Everything that’s a reference to the classroom—inside jokes and relationships—it’s going to be like beacons.”
Steiner believes there will be a renaissance after the pandemic passes, a new appreciation for the energy in a room where people gather, but for now she’s tapping into the stories her grandparents shared about living during the Depression and World War II.
“All their stories of getting by and having no clue of when life was going to be better … it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and finding fun.”