December 22, 2020
Share Your Story: Barque

This gift and stationery boutique offers merchandise for all types of celebrations

With so many retailers and makers facing similar challenges right now, we encourage you to Share Your Story so we may share your story and help other independent retailers.

Kandice Matsler at Barque, a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas, detailed information on how this business is successful despite the ongoing pandemic.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas
Kandice Matsle

Tell us about your business.

Barque is a gift and stationery boutique that has a little something for all of life’s celebrations. From unique and personalized gifts to custom invitations and stationery, we want to offer our shoppers a creative space to inspire their best gift-giving. Our team is committed to making our customers look like the hero by helping them select the perfect gift for any occasion. We are proud to be “the place to go” when our customers need something special.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

Since we first closed mid-March, we’ve shifted everything to being more online-based. In addition to increasing our online product offerings, we’ve also changed our point of sale system to better integrate inventory for online orders and in-store sales. Now, we regularly have new items that are on the way in our system, with photos and descriptions just ready to be received. It feels like we’re more prepared to receive products than we ever have been before, and that’s a great feeling.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

How have you adjusted operations since the start of the pandemic?

This year we added options for online orders to include a gift message, which a lot of customers have appreciated. They can buy a gift for a loved one and have it on its way without ever leaving the house. We also offered to handwrite messages in Mother’s Day/Father’s Day cards and mail them for shoppers. With so many customers staying home, they said this was a great service, so we’re happy to continue doing it.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

Like many other businesses, we also added local delivery and curbside pick up options for website and phone orders, and we will definitely keep those moving forward. Our customers have told us how convenient it is to order online and just swing by the store to pick up their items.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

Please describe how you are communicating with your customers.

We do a lot of our communication with customers through social media, specifically in our Instagram stories. We also send out email updates once or twice a month. To let customers know about our new policies for entering the store, we had a sign made to go out front. That’s been very helpful in having customers know the expectation we have if they are going to shop with us – and for the most part – they’ve been very kind about it.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

What was it like when Barque reopened after the pandemic forced closures or retail businesses?

It’s been great to see our customers’ faces again! That has been the best thing. Truly, going for almost three months without having them in the store was so sad; we’re just glad to be able to talk to them in person again. We’ve also had a lot of customers express how thankful they are that we are still here and open for them, they’ve missed us too! It’s been a blessing to welcome people back into the space and watch them enjoy a “shopping escape” from home.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

What challenges have you faced in store and online?

First and foremost, the biggest challenge has been trying to keep our community safe by enforcing our face mask and hand sanitizer policy. It’s exhausting! Constantly monitoring people to make sure they’re following our procedures isn’t the most fun part of our day, but it’s what we have to do now.

It’s also been difficult just to get everything done. Increased website orders, helping customers in-store, opening new arrivals and getting them added to the website just means more work to do. It’s like we’ve taken on another full time job but it’s working and we won’t complain about it. We just haven’t been able to get back to our “normal” hours yet; we have to reserve time in the afternoon just so we can get caught up on our back of house things.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

What helpful tips would you like to share with other retailers during these unprecedented times?

Find a way that makes sense to connect to your customers! Everyone is struggling in some way right now, and if you can find a way to genuinely show them you care, they will appreciate it and in turn continue to support your business.

Barque a gift and stationery boutique in Lubbock, Texas

As far as ordering, focus more on smaller businesses that are based in the US. Instead of waiting on some of the bigger brands to receive their containers from overseas, stock up on what you can get right now that your customers will want or need. In these unprecedented times, our advantage as a small business is that we can pivot on a dime — you HAVE to use that to make your store stand out. While all the Big Box stores have empty shelves, yours can be fully stocked and ready for shoppers.


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