Storefront Stories – Native Shoes
Storefront Stories is presented by the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. We are featuring various island business in hopes to promote how our local entrepreneurs are adapting to this new environment and promoting the amazing things they are doing for our island community. We will be introducing different businesses to show how they have chosen to pivot, their recent experiences, personal growth, and any tips or advice they have learned over the last 6 months.
opened its second store on Nantucket in 2018 down on Straight Wharf. Their lightweight and vibrant slip-ons have been flying off the shelves ever since! In their own words, “Native Shoes makes classic footwear for all people in all places”. The shoes’ ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) composition makes them odor-resistant, moldable, and free of all animal products. By 2023, each and every pair of Native Shoes will be 100% life cycle managed.
The Nantucket Chamber spoke with Retail District Manager, Beth Lloyd-Thomas.
1. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced during the time of COVID-19 both personally and professionally?
My biggest challenge has been figuring out how to manage personal and work safety while keeping a business viable. We live with my 87 year old mother so want to make sure to keep her safe and healthy. And I feel a tremendous responsibility to keep our business strong by creating the best possible customer experience through this challenging time. And that means safety for our customers along with exemplary service to them. People are afraid to shop but need to as children’s feet do not stop growing, even in a pandemic! I want to make sure both my family and my customers are safe and well cared for.
2. What are some ways you and your business have adjusted to this ‘new normal’?
We dove in early with ‘Virtual By Appointments’ for islanders. It worked better than we could have ever anticipated. Customers called or texted. We had an ‘In store FaceTime’ to help them with whatever requests they had, from sizing and fit issues, to style and functionality. We then delivered free of charge to their homes – a completely seamless and touchless shopping experience. Customers felt safe and valued and were so grateful we were there for them. As we were grateful to them. Shoes are hard to find on this island and people know they are getting a well-priced, quality and stylish product when they purchase. They are very loyal to the brand.
3. How has COVID-19 made you a better business person or store owner?
I had to be creative and flexible. Agility was our key word through our whole company with all of us wearing many hats. I felt grateful that our head office believes so much in Nantucket, the island, the people, that they were/are willing to weather this season, knowing we are part of the community for the long haul. That ‘people first’ culture gave me the confidence to always remember the ‘customer experience – safety and solutions’ is where we are as a store and a brand.
4. What are some helpful tips and insight that you might give another leader of a business?
Stay positive. Find solutions to obstacles. Reach out to peers in your community for ideas and support. Figure out how to keep costs low. Read and Zoom as much as possible about your respective industry and all things Covid related. Remember – How lucky are we that we are here in Nantucket during this tumultuous time: smell the hydrangeas, gaze at the ocean, appreciate what we do have here. It’s amazing!
5. What is a positive outcome of COVID-19?
I started playing the piano again. So happy to find the time to get back to something that I love but thought I had lost….