A Helping Hand During Troubled Times
Max’s sells artisan jewelry and other made-fine gifts. Photo courtesy of Ellen Hertz
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted all facets of life all over the world, and while we rightfully attempt to slow the spread of the virus by implementing social distancing and limiting public gatherings, there’s no denying that this crisis has negatively impacted local businesses big and small. One of the biggest impacts felt has been on restaurants and bars, but many other small businesses are feeling the pinch as well. Lavender spoke with three local businesses about how they’re contending with the financial fallout of the pandemic, and how the public can help them in this trying time.
A locally-owned boutique in St. Louis Park, Max’s specializes in artisan-designed and made-fine jewelry. Max’s also sells specialty chocolate made by artisan chocolatiers.
“We made the proactive decision to close the doors to our brick and mortar store effective Tuesday, March 17,” said owner Ellen Hertz. “I felt that it was my responsibility to do this to protect my staff and my customers and to be a responsible Minnesotan, not to mention American. While we have been selling our jewelry products on our website for the past several years, we decided to put the chocolates on our website for sale (no charge for shipping while the physical store is closed).”
Max’s has been regularly sending e-blasts to customers informed about developments at Max’s during its temporary closure, including the fact that employees would be paid during the closure.
“I anticipate sending at least 2 e-blasts per week to keep our customers informed about what we are doing,” said Hertz. “Our customers have been incredible—emails expressing their support, web orders for chocolate AND jewelry, and forwarding the e-blasts to their networks.”
“I have let my employees know that they will continue to be paid thru April and they are extremely grateful and appreciative,” Hertz continued. “To a great extent, this is due to the fact that our customers are continuing to shop and I can’t thank them enough.”
Hertz said that the best way for readers to support Max’s is to continue shopping by ordering directly from Max’s website.
3826 Grand Way
St. Louis Park
Best Wishes Floral
A full-service floral shop based out of Golden Valley, Best Wishes Floral had certainly taken a considerable hit during these tumultuous times.
“With the current health crisis, we have seen our sales drop drastically,” said co-owner Frank Bohlander. “Weekly deliveries no longer go to offices that have closed, for example. We are all in good health and are doing our best to deliver a bit of cheer for our customers.”
Best Wishes offers customers a variety of flowers, plants, cards, and gifts, and as of now, they are currently open for phone orders.
“We have adopted safety rules that apply to restaurants for take-out and delivery only,” said Bohlander. “We have yet to encounter any difficulties getting product, so as long as we are able we hope to be able to continue. We feel we are an essential service to the community, as flowers are a very powerful way to lift the spirits of someone who may be really down right now.”
Bohlander said that the public can continue to support Best Wishes by continuing to make purchases.
“We can deliver totally contact free,” said Bohlander. “Remember, many small businesses have no other source of income.”
689 Winnetka Ave. N.
The Twin Cities are celebrated for their robust artistic communities, and many art galleries are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. One such gallery is the acclaimed Gamut Gallery, located in Minneapolis’ Elliot Park neighborhood. Gamut showcases the work of local and international artists, with rotating exhibits featuring everything from paintings and sculptures to photography and live music. Gamut also boasts a gift shop offering branded merchandise.
“The transition was quite a shock for us as many other small businesses have also experienced,” said gallery director Cassie Garner. “We are taking it one day at a time, and those days ebb and flow. Some days are harder than others.”
Garner said that Gamut suffered a major financial hit due to temporarily closing their brick-and-mortar location, forcing them to cancel their spring events.
“Many of our art sales occur during our events,” said Garner. “We will [change] exhibit dates around, postponing exhibitions and the events we had correlating with them as we see fit as the pandemic unfolds. Not being able to bring together our network the biggest impact of all; we are a not just a gallery, we are space of community and gathering.”
Garner said that the best way for the public to support Gamut Gallery is by supporting their artists directly via gamut-gallery.myshopify.com.
717 10th St. S.