But it’s working. 2020 was Hero Shop’s highest selling year yet. Our clients scaled back their big-box-store purchases in favor of shopping with us and fervently encouraged their friends to take advantage of our home delivery service. We, at first frantically and now more methodically, threw everything online and increased our newsletter cadence. Our ecommerce sales grew 997%. (In store was down only 40%.) We made the WFH wardrobe our priority: cozy sweaters, stretchy jeans, and good jewelry to jazz up the Zoom look—all critical inventory that thanks to loans and grants we were able to pay for. We also got to bring in exciting, covetable collections that previously were off-limits to us, because their other points of distribution went under.
That’s where the survivor’s guilt kicks in. I hated closing our store in the Tenderloin, a cool and gritty neighborhood with vibrant history, but the health and safety conditions, shaky in the best of times, grew untenable. (Retailers in nearby Hayes Valley, a trendy area where Warby Parker and Away have stores, recently have been held up at gunpoint.) And the reality is that suburbs are thriving. Marin County, an affluent community 20 minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge where our second, and now our only, store is located, is undeniably the spot for a specialty luxury shop. Especially now that our city clients are moving there or passing through more often as they retreat to their second homes in Stinson Beach or Napa.
These days we’re seeing more clients in-store and some even are shopping for glamorous summer vacations. What we have to sell them for these trips varies, since the clothes arriving now were bought via Zoom and if you think online shopping for yourself is tricky, try doing it for a store.
In many ways, we’re entering the next 12 months better off than we did the last. Everyone is saying that sales this spring and summer will be gangbusters because of pent-up energy and dollars. But I don’t intend to take my foot off the gas. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to not take anything for granted. If you told me that next year I’ll be selling Cossack hats on TikTok, I’d be like yeah, anything’s possible.