'Every single sale means the world to us'

Small business owners talk COVID-19 hardships

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Throughout Colorado's stay-at-home order, Dr. Martha Lucas kept her fingers crossed that her small business in Capitol Hill would survive the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Chinese medicine is effective at treating peoples' anxiety. It helps your spirit be more balanced,” Lucas said. “But how am I going to be able to be there for my patients?”

Lucas Acupuncture and Natural Therapies

www.AcupunctureWoman.com

Lucas is a self-employed practitioner of Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Her local business has three arms — a private practice, Lucas Acupuncture, which she opened about 18 years ago; teaching Chinese medicine through seminars; and a natural skin care line called My Zen Skin Care, which Lucas launched about three years ago.

She also provides acupuncture treatments twice a week at a Western medicine facility in Littleton.

However, Chinese medicine was not considered an essential business under the Stay-At-Home, Lucas said.

“First thing to go was the face-to-face seminars. Big hit to income,” Lucas said. “Next, (the) private practice and medical practices closed. Second big hit to income.”

Lucas kept her skin care line open for online orders and offered free shipping, but it was “slow going” and is the smallest arm of her business, she said.

Following Denver and Arapahoe counties' health department mandates, Lucas hopes to be back in business May 8. In the meantime, she has been providing webinars to continue with her seminar teachings, and has been offering telemedicine appointments for acupressure, herbs and supplements and distant Reiki sessions.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on additional amounts of stress to people, Lucas and one of her colleagues, Rebecah Ziegler, started a video series called Your At-home Medicine Bowl. Each one contains a healing practice that anybody can use at home to help with calming, Lucas said.

“Stress doesn't treat our immune systems well,” Lucas said, “so that's another issue and partly why I started the Your At-home Medicine Bowl. Just trying to help people stay healthy during the most stressful of times.”

As for the future, Lucas believes there will be a need for Chinese medicine practices following the pandemic.

“I feel that our practices will shine because many people will be traumatized. They'll have PTSD from this, insomnia, anxiety, depression — all things that Chinese medicine absolutely shines at treating,” Lucas said. “It's just hard to see that future now.”

The CBD Suite

www.thecbdsuitedenver.com

Jessica Kiley and Samantha Bowers were ecstatic to finally open the doors of their small business in January.

“South Gaylord Street has such a great community,” Bowers said. “We really miss our block.”

The two women own The CBD Suite, a boutique-style retail business modeled to allow customers to test and explore CBD products at sampling stations where people could taste or apply the products on-site.

Upon opening, Kiley and Bowers had big plans to host various events at the shop, including visiting brand reps and education, mindfulness and health-and-wellness events.

The CBD Suite, 1078 S. Gaylord St., hosted its grand opening on Feb. 29, and just a few weeks later, the women had to close their doors because of COVID-19.

“We were just starting to gain a repeat customer base,” Bowers said. “But for us as a brand, it was more important to keep our community safe.”

To stay in operation during the closure, Bowers and Kiley rushed to launched The CBD Suite's online store much earlier than originally anticipated, and offered curbside pickup, free shipping and free delivery.

“But so much of (the shop's experience) was education-based and being able to provide people with the opportunity to interact with us and the products,” Bowers said.

In attempt to enhance the online shopping experience, Bowers and Kiley offered phone and email consultations on product education — spotlighting items to help people manage the health crisis, such as sleep aids and products that help with anxiety, focus and mental clarity.

Additionally, The CBD Suite gave out goodie bags and offered discounts to healthcare workers/medical professionals and first responders.

Bowers and Kiley expect to reopen their shop as soon as it's safe to do so, according to the health department's mandates, Bowers said.

“We're going to get back at it,” she said. “Every day is a little different (but) we're choosing to stay positive.”

Rosy Rings

https://rosyrings.com/

About 25 years ago, Rosy Rings founder Shannon Cumberland started the small fragrance company in her Denver home's kitchen.

On Oct. 24, 2019, Rosy Rings opened its brick-and-mortar location at 2940 E. Sixth Ave. in Cherry Creek North.

“We hit the ground running,” said Allie Liebgott who has been with the company for eight years and joined as a partner in September last year. “But it all came to a screeching halt when we realized we wouldn't be able to stay open.”

Liebgott manages the Cherry Creek North boutique, which offers home fragrance retail and hosted candle-making classes twice a week. She has four employees that she hopes to bring back following the pandemic, Liebgott said.

Rosy Rings already had an online store, but during the shop's closure, it ramped up its email blasts, newsletters and social media presence, Liebgott said. She would video chat with shoppers and provide them with a virtual walkthrough of the store, Liebgott said.

A popular item during the stay-at-home order was the DIY candle kits, which people had delivered or picked up curbside, Liebgott said.

“They're a nice distraction,” she said. “It's one of those crafts that anyone can do and enjoy.”

Because the candle-making classes were so well received at the shop, Liebgott began offering them via Zoom in the early days of Colorado's stay-at-home order. She has since hosted virtual candle-making parties for a variety of groups — couples on a date night, Girl Scouts and birthday parties.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, but Liebgott is thrilled to see that the local community has been doing what it can to supporting its small businesses and local restaurants, she said. As a token of appreciation, Liebgott started setting out satchels of bath salts, little vases of fresh flowers and other “pretty things that make your day brighter” outside of the storefront that people could take home.

“The small businesses in Denver are what make this city so great,” Liebgott said, extending a thank you to everyone who supported local businesses during the COVID-19 closures. “Every single sale means the world to us right now.”

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