Catching Up With Businesses

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 7, 2020
Sydney Slaska, owner of Cloth + Design, opened her Porters Neck store in May after having to delay the grand opening because of the coronavirus. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)

Editor’s Note: Starting in March, the Business Journal featured area businesses and how they are adjusting operations, innovating and coping in general with the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Here are updates on some of those businesses as they continue to work through the ongoing pandemic.

Print shop gets a boost from loans, county grant

For Betsy Kahn, owner of Copy­cat Print Shop, “March seems like an eternity ago,” she said.
“While business has not been stellar, in part because of a tradi­tional summer slowdown, it has been steady,” Kahn said.
“As a financial safeguard, we applied for and received the EIDL grant, PPP, the EIDL loan and were honored to have been one of the 130 [New Ha­nover County] businesses to have re­ceived a $10,000 grant to be applied to COVID-response measures.”
More safety precautions are in place at the business at 637 S. Kerr Ave., including a mandatory mask requirement. The print shop’s gen­eral manager, Sue Meier, has sewn many of the masks and provided them to the team.
“We have signage in our bath­rooms reminding everyone to wash their hands for 20 seconds,” Kahn said. “Every morning huddle begins with “How’s everyone feeling today?’ It’s important to us to check in with the team.”
Khan said that everyone at the print shop has been responsible for taking their temperature with a provided thermometer upon entering the building.
She said, “We continue to offer curbside and delivery service to our clientele. Rarely does anyone other than our employees enter the building, but when they do, proper wearing of masks is mandatory.”
The business has received many orders for banners and window sig­nage, among other products, and has donated banners to area businesses.
Store in Porters Neck debuts despite virus

While the coronavirus crisis meant Sydney Slaska had to postpone the grand opening of her clothing store in Porters Neck, previously set to take place the last weekend in March, she was able to open Cloth + Design in May.
The 1,400-square-foot, high-end women’s clothing boutique is in Unit BB at 8211 Market St.
“Thankfully each month that goes by, we continue to build more and more relationships within the com­munity,” Slaska said in July. “Every­one that has walked in has been in­credibly supportive in opening Cloth + Design during this pandemic.”
She said there have been obstacles, “such as extensive supply chain is­sues with our vendors, our neighbor­ing restaurants that help drive foot traffic having to periodically close, and the general public is understand­ably hesitant to be out and about.”
Slaska said that much like every small business owner, she is dealing with this pandemic head-on.
“We have incorporated a 30-day return policy if our customers are not comfortable with trying on in-store,” she said. “For the clothing that is tried on in-store that is not purchased, we disinfect these items by steaming before placing the clothing back on the floor. We also offer personal shopping, online shopping and same-day door drops for our local community.”
Slaska grew up in the Brunswick County town of Ocean Isle Beach, and her last retail job was at clothing and accessories boutique Ann Paige in Morehead City.
In July 2019, “I was ready to take the chance for myself instead of running somebody else’s business,” she said.
Slaska said at the beginning of April that she knew the delayed grand opening would mean she’d have to increase her marketing efforts.
“The good thing about retail is that you can launch it online,” Slaska said.
Slaska continues to feel optimistic, she said.
“I have worked the past 10-plus years to put myself in this position, and I know it’s all going to work out,” Slaska said. “We can’t be more thankful for our clients support, and the relationships being built daily. Even though these are difficult times, I’m extremely grateful to have doors open, and for the support of our community.”
For local commercial real estate firm, mixed news
One of the largest commercial real estate firms in the region, Wilmington- based Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners provided an update on how the company is doing as the pandemic rages on.
There’s good and bad news.
“We’re four months into this health and economic crisis, and now we’re seeing the effects much more clearly,” said Mark Johnson, executive vice president/sales manager. “Leasing activity has dropped significantly year over year. At the same time, our sales volume is up around 50%.”
He said the sales increase makes sense because “there’s still a lot of money in the market that has to go somewhere, thus keeping sales activity high. The drop in leasing also makes sense – especially in the retail market segment. So I guess it’s a mixed bag, and we’re surviving.”

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