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Shop owners emerging with creative solutions to save their businesses amid pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – The coronavirus pandemic is getting the creative juices flowing for people who are trying to adapt their businesses to the change.

Ken Krawczynsky, owner of three Kid to Kid stores in Bexar County, said children don’t stop growing during a pandemic, and he needed a way to help his customers. That’s when he explored the idea of virtual shopping.

“We do a video chat with customers. They tell us what they’re looking for in the store. We show them options they have,” he said.

The customer pays over the phone and picks up their items curbside without ever entering the store.

“(Business) is down 85%. But (virtual shopping is) helping us pay our taxes, and it’s helping us keep one employee employed,” Krawczynsky said.

Customer feedback is so good, he said he’s going to keep the model beyond the pandemic period. He urges other small business owners to connect with others in their industry to see what creative options are available to them to stay afloat.

“There's a lot of smart people out there being very creative. And, you know, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We can borrow ideas from other businesses,” Krawczynsky said.

Florist Amanda Blissit, with Blume-Haus, said the pandemic has pushed her business to bloom. Her bread and butter this time of the year are weddings and events, but since they’re not happening, she was forced to think outside the box.

Blissit turned her floral arrangement classes into virtual workshops. Each week, customers can choose an arrangement, the supplies are shipped to them, and at the end of the week, they can tune in for a live workshop with question and answer portion.

“People enjoy sending them as a gift to their friends and family, knowing that they're searching for something different to do,” Blissit said. “And you get to enjoy it longer than just the workshop, because, of course, you get to enjoy your flowers for a week or so even afterward.”

The word and business have spread nationwide. She said she’s reaching people in Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The new model has allowed her to keep her business level and her four workers on the job.

Blissit said her business has done so well that she’s exploring other branches of the virtual floral industry.

“We had been wanting to get into being able to ship our retail florals nationwide, and this gave us, kind of, the pause and also the push in order to figure it out and to do it quickly,” she said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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