Success Stories: Jack + Emmy Adapts to Parents’ Needs for their Kids’ Clothes
Erica Farrell owns Jack + Emmy children’s clothing store in historic downtown Truckee and never imagined she would experience such a drastic change in business operations as we’ve seen COVID-19 adaptations take place locally and around the world. Farrell says sales were strong during her second full year in business, until operations came to a halt on March 17.
“It kind of went in stages, when it was first starting in early March it got a little strange up here but I still had good sales at the store. The week of March 13, when they closed school, it got really scary really fast,” Farrell said.
The business closure order came as a surprise and Farrell said she was thankful that her online store was already setup but said she felt terrible that she couldn’t pay her employee.
“It was very stressful, not only on the business side but also our kids were just told they don’t go to school anymore and I’m going to say that first week was pretty dark,” she said.
With the Easter holiday, Farrell kept her store’s presence alive online and shipped Easter baskets to customers. April was a tough month from her perspective as a business owner and a parent, she recalls it taking so much effort for her family to stay afloat.
Farrell’s husband heard about the Resilience Fund on 101.5 KTKE as Sierra Business Council’s Kristin York described the platform and its mission to offer affordable loans to small business owners, to get through COVID-19 finances and to create a longstanding resource for economic growth on the other side of the pandemic.
She applied to the Resilience Fund after spending hours applying for government loans: PPP and EIDL. A few outstanding bills came up just as she received her loan disbursement.
“I received funding and I knew I had the money to pay for all of those things. I was also using some of it for new inventory that was put on hold. It just feels better knowing there’s a little more cushion and a safety net. Every business has lost so much income and it’s hard because this is something we couldn’t plan for,” Farrell said.
For now, Farrell has changed operations to run Jack + Emmy online and in her shop downtown as a one-woman team. She is open during limited hours for in-person shopping and is diligently following social distance and sanitary guidelines.
She says much of her energy is focused on marketing outside of her typical geography and trying to reach shoppers around the country, rather than the usual tourism base that typically would visit North Lake Tahoe. Another pivot point for Farrell has been the way she orders her merchandise – strategic buying for what parents need for their kids most right now.
“I’m more cautious buying for my store…I have a lot of cute dresses for example that aren’t everyday wear and no one is buying those. It’s changing the way people spend their money, they’re looking for comfy clothes, so I’ve changed the business model to bring in less expensive brands that are just as cute,” Farrell said.
In terms of what the future holds, Farrell has plans for her store to continue to change and adapt to suit the needs of her clientele and stay on top of her digital store to keep from becoming a stale business. She sees the Resilience Fund as a way for business owners like herself to get through current challenges and to grow operations in the future.
“It’s such a great loan, I would absolutely use it again. People are helping and maybe feel good about that. It’s more than a conventional loan, I would definitely use them again…PPP didn’t work out with Wells Fargo; that was incredibly frustrating. The Resilience Fund was amazing,” she said.
Jack + Emmy offers all kinds of clothes, toys, gifts and accessories for children online and in their Truckee store.