Our round-up of the latest Wellesley, Mass., business news.
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Wellesley Square Live: Friday, April 24, 9am
You’re all invited to join Wellesley Square Merchants and fellow neighbors on Friday for an online video discussion dubbed Wellesley Square Live.
The free 1-hour event will be hosted by Rick Cram, author of PLAN TO BE YOUR BEST …As You Navigate Change.
We’ve signed up…
Inside Isabel Harvey
We’ve been doing the rounds with local businesses and organizations to see how they’re faring during the coronavirus crisis. Some get right back, others are mum. We were lucky to get a few minutes with Kimberly Kissam, who runs Isabel Harvey in Wellesley and Nantucket with sister Alexis Kissam, to chat about how the jewelry/handbags/clothing/home goods shop is holding up.
Easter, Mother’s Day, prom, graduation—this is Isabel Harvey’s time of year. But the Kissam sisters find themselves alternating visits to the store, which is currently operating online only with a bit of curbside pick-up mixed in. They take turns visiting the shop because they can’t afford for both of them to get sick, “or forget about it,” Kimberly says.
When the always-fashionable physical store does re-open, expect the new decor to include spit shields done as tastefully as possible. “2020 is the year to stay alive,” Kimberly says, noting that she has applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and is hopeful that the business is far enough up in the queue for funds. She’s been in touch with their landlord, but understands they’re in a tough spot, too.
The upside of this situation is that Isabel Harvey, like other retailers, has become more sophisticated about online selling. It is currently offering big sales online (like getting a 35% off coupon with purchase of a $100 gift card), and has had success sparking sales via its Instagram account (“Direct messages are powerful”).
“It’s a time to be creative as possible online,” she says.
Though Isabel Harvey hasn’t ignored its physical presence in Wellesley Square either. It has a fresh window display featuring inspirational words. After all, while locals can’t go into the store, plenty of them are walking or driving around town and might be enticed to shop online. “I was driving through town with my husband and we noticed that you could see the big rough and tumble signs but not the small ones, some of which have been faded by the sun. You can’t tell those places are alive,” she says.
Typically at this time of year, following the spring event and holiday rush, the Kissams would be revving up for big shopping trips at events for buyers in New York and Atlanta. Such trips won’t be happening: In fact, the New York venue they go to has been converted into a hospital…
Isabel Harvey opened its store back during the 2008 recession. That made for great opportunities to negotiate with designers, on rent and more. So the Kissams know that even when things aren’t pretty, you need to keep faith. “We’re just trying to stay positive. There’s no sense in being a Debbie Downer.”
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Wellesley retailers feeling thankful
We’ve been thinking Wellesley retailers have been missing an opportunity to use their storefronts to share messages or spectacular displays that might catch the eyes of those walking round and round and round town these days. But businesses, like Isabel Harvey as mentioned above, have started to up their games. Among the others: E.A. Davis, Tutto Italiano and European Manor.