As businesses across Bellingham have temporarily closed their doors, many local retail locations are now offering home deliveries. From books to plants, and even condoms, products are more accessible than ever and delivered right to your door.
Emily Boevers and Tay Griffen started their plant delivery business in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their business, Plants for All People, was intended to be a pop-up shop, selling at different markets around the Whatcom and Skagit counties. Griffin said that because they can no longer do that, they have adapted their business method and launched a website during the last week of April.
“For about the last week we’ve been offering porch deliveries and we’ve also been offering shipping for non-living things, like pots and gifts, to people outside Washington state as well,” Boevers said.
Boevers said their decision to transition the business to e-commerce was the most effective way to keep it going and do it on a larger scale than just weekend markets. Their business focuses on accessibility and plant care.
“I think that because the market for houseplants is really booming right now, we strive not only to bring people plants but also the necessary education and information that’s necessary to keep them alive,” Boevers said.
She said they work with wholesalers and try to keep prices reasonable.
Both Boevers and Griffin agreed that taking care of plants during this time can also serve as mood boosters.
“We want everybody to have their own little jungle in their homes because especially with everyone quarantining it’s so important that we have things to keep ourselves occupied and our mental health in a good place,” Griffin said.
Other local businesses have also made the switch to online delivery methods. The owners of Village Books, located in Fairhaven, decided to quickly change the way they communicated with vendors and processed orders. The Fairhaven location is open for curbside pickup, online orders and delivery. The Lynden location is only doing online orders.
Kelly Evert, one of the co-owners who handles home deliveries, said orders can be placed online and shipped from the warehouse. Books that they have in-store are available for curbside pickup and can be delivered.
“Customers can buy books, toys, puzzles, games, cards, gifts, candy — all the products we always had,” Evert said in an email.
The Comics Place, located on Holly Street, put together a website where customers can order comics, graphic novels, board games and other items. Jeff Figley, the store’s co-owner, said that he and another employee do deliveries a couple times a week.
“Basically, we’ve made the jump from being an active store filled with people and life to a warehouse designed to pack and deliver orders,” Figley said in an email. “We’re pretty excited to get to see all our wonderful friends again.”
Figely said they are also staying connected with customers through social media. They have kept up their weekly podcast, “The Perfectly Acceptable Podcast,” and have started a virtual book club. Their podcasts can be listened to on Apple, Spotify and other podcast platforms. More information can be found on their website.
“We also started a weekly Zoom meeting book club as a way of facilitating orders and getting to socialize with all of our store friends,” he said. “We’ve had four of those so far and they’re a blast.”
Figley said the store is putting out a lot of different ways to keep customers engaged in its community. He said they have gotten a lot of orders since the first day their website launched, seeing tremendous support from the community.
Businesses having to temporarily close their doors, no longer being able to provide their services have had to creatively rethink their approach. Atelier Beauty Parlor, located on Holly Street, began delivering hair products, lash serums and other retail items after the salon temporarily closed its doors. The no-contact delivery service has given the salon a chance to continue in business and provide for clients.
Alexia Hughs, owner and creative director of Atelier, said some clients have even pre-paid for future appointments, which is helping support hairstylists. Hughs said they provide more than just haircuts. Items from their self-care-focused retail boutique can be shopped for on their Instagram and orders can be placed by emailing Hughes at email@example.com.
“I started brainstorming on how else Atelier could show up for clients and the community,” Hughes said in an email. “As it turns out, self-care is just as, if not more important during a pandemic than ever. That’s when I decided people needed more than just food delivered to their doors.”
While health services are still available to students, Western’s Prevention and Wellness office is offering free safe-sex supply deliveries to students’ homes.
Tracy Dahlstedt-Reinstra, a Western health educator and peer sexual health education coordinator, said that in the fall of 2017, online condom requests launched with hopes to make condoms and other safe-sex materials more available across campus. Condoms could be ordered in bulk, and were intended to be put out in public places.
“This quarter, since campus is closed down, we have boxes of condoms, lube and dental dams and things in my office, waiting to be distributed to people who need them,” Dahlstedt-Rienstra said.
Dahlstedt-Rienstra said she oversees sexual health programming and resources. She decided to make the influx of condoms more directly available for students during this time.
“I thought it would be a good idea to see if students might want to have some mailed to their home, wherever they’re living right now,” she said.
After getting her idea approved, partnering with campus mail services and modifying the online form for personal orders, Dahlstedt-Rienstra relaunched the delivery program.
Dahlstedt-Rienstra said that providing condoms for students has helped her, along with other peer health educators, be a part of something that is a fun, clear and direct way of helping people. She said the encouraging messages she and the team receive in student’s request forms keep them going.