For 5 Questions this week the Herald speaks to Kay Derry, owner of Northern Roots Boutique, 2550 S. Columbia Road in Grand Forks.
Q: How has business been at Northern Roots Boutique through the pandemic?
A: I guess it's been slow. A lot of people are staying at home and, obviously, don't need clothing; it's not the top of their priorities. I felt a big, a big hit on that part of it, when people aren’t going out and about needing anything new. It's hit pretty hard, but it's coming back. Summer is usually a slow time anyway. Hopefully, in fall, it will come back and people will start to do things. Getting back to the new normal will hopefully bring in some business.
Q: How has the pandemic changed the way you operate Northern Roots?
A: I've always focused on people. I love giving one-on-one attention and doing the fittings and touching the clothes, and I'm just doing one on-one-consulting. I had to up my online presence for my website, so I got a new website, and I’m still working on doing a (smartphone) app for the store and just making it more mobile, so people can shop online.
Q: What's your reaction to recent bankruptcy filings by major retail chains, such as Catherines and Lane Bryant?
A: It hurts all of us. I don't see other clothing stores or boutiques as competitors. I think we're all in it together, and, if we don't have those stores in town, we're not going to be a destination for people to come in and shop. I don't want any stores to close. With the recent closing, I've always carried plus-sized clothing and extended size clothing. A lot of people didn't know that, so now I have to get the word out that I have always carried it, and I will carry more of that so I can hopefully help that community and fill that need.
Q: What do retailers need to do to be successful at this time?
A: Pray, and work your butt off. And probably work smarter. I think a couple things that we're doing is just talking to other business owners and how we can team up. I've always teamed up with other businesses in town and in the area. Now, it's just getting more awareness of working together as a community. You can always pair up, just being there for each other, knowing that everyone's going through a hard time.
Q: What would you say to someone who wants to open a clothing store right now?
A: I would say do all of your homework. There are still grants out there, and I think there is still opportunity to start businesses. I think knowing what you're jumping into or maybe even teaming up with someone that's already in a business, to do that, to get mentoring before you start. I would say go for it, but use mentors, use myself or other business owners. Don't be afraid to go and ask for help. There’s SCORE, there's other leaders in town that will definitely help you out with it. If you have a dream, move. Don't hold back from your dream, just go for it.