Change in sales bodes well for retailer

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Diane Petryna, owner of Take A Hike and Take Two Boutique, is going online to run her business.

THUNDER BAY — After more than 25 years running a successful retail business in Thunder Bay, Diane Petryna, owner of Take A Hike and Take Two Boutique, is transforming her operation into a digital-first enterprise.

Enduring two years of pandemic hardship and the ever-changing retail landscape, Petryna says she’s become a “pivotal”, having to constantly readjust.

Out of frustration, she started using the Internet to interact with her customers, which allowed her to showcase her products and make sales without physical contact.

“What I did out of desperation in the pandemic was start a Facebook live shopping show that’s now on YouTube,” she said. “The show is called Shop with Diane. I explain to my customers, in detail, the non-apparel products I have in my store, describe the features and benefits, and share my customers’ testimonials. I was shocked (to see) 75 people joining me live. I could never imagine so many people in my store.

In 1996, Petryna operated what she says is the only store in North America solely focused on the needs of women and their families who enjoy a laid-back, outdoor lifestyle. After years of strong sales, innovative marketing ideas and retail pricing, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have seriously hampered her apparel sales, forcing her to use the internet.

“I was locked down, I couldn’t sell clothes. My first month of lockdown in the pandemic saw sales under $2,000 for the month,” she said.

“My store is sitting here with women’s clothing, fall, winter, spring and summer in the basement because I got stuck in my tracks in a market that isn’t recovering.”

She says retail marketers have determined the best predictions for 2022 focused on the popularity of live shopping on social platforms. Unlike web pages with product images and prices, Live Shopping offers personal interaction through video.

This is evident with the many problems encountered when purchasing clothing items from a webpage.

Petryna expanded her research on direct marketing strategy and looked to Asian markets where she says they have “gone crazy” in terms of growth with this concept. She even self-funded a trip to Hong Kong to visit people on the cutting edge of this technology.

“Pre-pandemic research has shown that the problem with selling clothes online is that they don’t fit,” Petryna said.

“Reports showed that up to 60% of clothes purchased online were returned. Oh my God. It’s a huge environmental problem. It’s a very expensive business for a company to be in there.

Petryna says she didn’t go that route and used her experience working with different brands and her customers to come up with an idea of ​​how to get that fit without the customer being physically there — and her shopping show live was born.

“People would log in and place an order during or after the show,” she said. “It’s amazing because we’re standing outside (the store) and the items are already prepaid, we’re physically separated and I’ve seen and helped people throughout the pandemic – coping or not. .”

To date, she has hosted 88 shows.

“People regularly come to see the show. They built a community,” she said.

People who comment or interact get to know each other and feel like a community of heart-centered people. And that’s what it is. A lovely group of people who get together every week and when we have physically left our social groups, we use it as a new virtual community of really lovely people.

Meanwhile, Patryna still has the problem of a store full of clothes that she has to liquidate to close the window.

“I have to get rid of it. I have to unlock myself. I’m sitting on the Titanic. . . . And I got a first class pass. But we know what happened to the Titanic,” she said, adding that she was not worried.

Located on McKellar Street, opposite Fort William Gardens, the Patryna store is a safe place to shop with additional green space for outdoor shopping. She will be selling off her clothing stock so she can focus exclusively on her live shopping show along with her many other products.

The Journal of the Chronicle

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