Adapting to adversity has been the key to PB&J continuing to stay in business.
The women’s clothing boutique in downtown Salina, 110 N. Santa Fe, has seen a rough few years, but has embraced the change that has come with the hard times.
Chrisi Pearson, owner of PB&J, says that this year has been especially tough due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
Pearson relied on herself, a small staff of three others and mainly foot traffic to make things work prior to the pandemic. However, when government officials decided it was best for public safety to limit gathering to 10 people, before ultimately issuing a statewide “Stay At Home” order, Pearson had no choice but to cut back without the option of having the customers come to her.
The small staff was mostly part-time employees, however, Pearson couldn’t afford to keep her full-time manager on staff with no store to maintain. While it wasn’t the decision she wanted to make, it was one she had to in order to save her business.
This is the fifth year of existence for PB&J. It is a women’s boutique featuring clothing, accessories, make-up and skin care. The store has been located in Salina for all five years, before eventually opening up its downtown location four years ago.
Of course, the store had a struggle in 2019 due to the frequent construction in the “Downtown Streetscape” revitalization project. The project, which tore out all of the road and sidewalk in front of PB&J was difficult for consumers to navigate around due to the length in construction as well as there being limited parking options near the store front.
While Pearson remains excited for the potential that the Streetscape brought, she did mention how difficult it was for her business because of the lack of foot traffic. Due to the seasonality of sales for PB&J–the first quarter of the year is generally the slowest, coming off of the holiday season–Pearson says that the virus outbreak could not have hit at a worse time.
Ever resilient, however, Pearson would not take the blow of the virus outbreak lying down. She instituted several initiatives that have helped keep her business afloat, including heavy use of social media and an online boutique–which is linked in through social media–called “E-Boutique.” That way, her customers have an easy way of finding her store and numerous sales that the store is offering.
PB&J has also instituted a door-step delivery service as well that abides by the rules of social distancing with “no contact” with the buyer.
PB&J’s social media following is really what gives Pearson hope through this outbreak. The work of building her brand through social media in year’s prior appears to be paying off for the moment.
While Pearson continues the push for PB&J through this difficult sales period, she is also having to worry about her husband–who also owns a small business in Salina. Both have had to close down their stores and jump feet-first in to online sales to try to stay afloat.
Still, it’s the worry of “big box stores” and chain stores taking over the Salina community is what worries Pearson the most, which is why she is continuing to urge everyone to continue to shop local.
It is with that plea and hope of continuing social media and online success that Pearson hopes to see PB&J make its way through what is not only a difficult time for small business owners around the country, but many normal people who continue to count down the days until ‘life as we knew it’ returns to normal.
**If you know of a small, local business that has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and has figured out a new way to operate, we’d like to feature them on KSAL’s weekly “Small Business Spotlight.” Contact us with business names at [email protected]**