The COVID pandemic has changed almost everything each of us do during our day. This is almost more true for brick and mortar small businesses; forced to close their doors by the stay-at-home orders.

Trish Fitzsimmons at Yarn Social is making sure to keep the SOCIAL in her business. Her store is about fostering and serving the mostly local community of fiber artists. Through her robust social media presence, the clients were drawn into her West Plaza location. In-person sales drives her revenue, so COVID-19 has created a great challenge.

In the face of a challenge, Trish rose to new levels. After her closure on March 17, she began virtual shopping on zoom. Customers booked a time and a store associate would have a video call to look at the offerings item by item. Orders were filled from every zoom call. Using email, phone, text, Instagram DM and Facebook Messenger were other avenues. You may have picked up food curbside recently, but what about yarn? Yep, Yarn Social has that too!

Trish quickly realized that it was too much – too complicated to have so many avenues and it was time for another change. They revamped the approach to include only two avenues of purchase: email if they knew what they wanted to buy or virtual shopping if they needed to see inventory and ask questions. Payment is accepted by invoice or over phone.

Getting her inventory online had been a plan in Trish’s mind for some time. The current situation has forced that need up the ladder. With the flexibility her customers were showing on a daily basis, she moved forward and got her online store running. Still much to do, but her loyal customers are supporting her all along the way.

Trish credits her time in ELEVATIONLAB NEW Venture with the creation of that loyal customer base.

“Without a doubt, the best takeaway for me from NEW Venture was figuring out how to frame and define what my business was, both tot myself and to the public. Articulating my goal of fostering and supporting a community helped give my work meaning beyond just making money, and I believe prioritizing that goal has made my business more successful than if I didn’t do so. I have a supportive and loyal customer base and am optimistic that I have their support while we all cope with the pandemic.”

What’s next? Yarn Social is working on kits for customers that pair patterns and yarn to complete projects at home. Virtual Social Hours are taking the place of in-shop gatherings four times a week (remember SOCIAL is in the name). The shop continues to feel connected to their customer base and build goodwill in the community.

Trish continues to work with her business counselor at Missouri SBDC to both get through this crisis and to grow well into the future. If you’ve got a tale to spin and want to try your hand at real yarn art, reach out to Yarn Social and join a Social Hour or two!

Trish Fitzsimmons, owner