As a small business owner, I am always thinking ahead and looking to the future. “What new inventory systems are available?” and “how does our business adapt to the growing social media market?” are questions we can anticipate and address. The words “global pandemic” were not on our list of worries. Suddenly, as a retailer, I am not only making decisions to protect myself and my family, but I am also finding ways to keep my business safe and relevant. As I approach the silver anniversary of my business, Once upon a time, LLC, this experience has revealed all that I have cultivated with this business.
We are a small business with two locations, in the heart of two small communities, Crestline Village of Mountain Brook, and Homewood, Alabama. These communities have supported us and helped us to grow. Our customers stayed loyal to us and are a true testament to “SHOP LOCAL.” Our customers NEED us as much as we NEED them. They rely on us to help them find the perfect homecoming outfit for their new baby, or help them design their baby’s journal which will be a keepsake in years to come. They rely on us to guide them with their nursery choices; they consult with us to outfit their family for the day to day needs or those special occasions that make their memories. They trust us for quality product selections. When non-essential businesses were mandated to be closed, customers adapted to the new shopping options we offered such as window shopping, virtual shopping, and online shopping. They constantly share words of encouragement and thanks for our continued help. Our customers have shown us, we ARE essential.
I have eight amazingly supportive team members. When we realized we would be affected by the pandemic, we worked together to formulate a plan to get us through this unknown. Even though they had to be furloughed, they were still there offering me their support to adapt to the new temporary plan for doing business. I am a dreamer; I always look at the bright side of a situation. This attitude and my faith in God has given me the strength to survive both life and business challenges. Yes, I was worried about the unknown, but I made sure my team never felt uncertain about the future of ONCE UPON A TIME. We worked through these unprecedented times and are all back together preparing for a new season. We are ready for the challenge. Our customers are happy to be back shopping with us and make it a point to tell us. I will never underestimate the need for RETAIL THERAPY and all the wonderful baby items we carry to celebrate the joy and wonder of the birth of a child and all their milestones.
I am grateful for the support of all of my families, home, work and community. The challenge of this pandemic is not over, but with their help we will continue to be ESSENTIAL. Linda Flaherty, Owner of Once Upon a Time.