Recent increased rent by Webster University, dwindling sales, lead to store closure.
Local store Blue Dahlia Designs restructures business to survive
Mother and daughter duo Angie and Alyssa Mangan opened their dream interior design store last August. Now, COVID-19 caused them to rethink how they run the shop.
Last month, Angie Mangan had to lock the doors of her interior design store six months after it opened.
“We’re about where everybody else with small business has been lately,” Mangan said.
A sign taped to the door of Mangan’s store, Blue Dahlia Designs, says due to the COVID-19 virus, they will be closed for walk-ins. Mangan and her daughter Alyssa Mangan own and operate the store located in downtown Webster. They just opened last August.
Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch said she’s seen a lot of concern in the community for small businesses. Webster Groves will undoubtedly take a big hit to its finances, she said, especially since the city’s greatest source of revenue is sales tax.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” Welch said. “We’ll have to do what we can to help to get them back. But, financially, there’s nothing that we can actually do now.”
Alyssa Mangan said the virus couldn’t have come at a worse time. The months after Christmas is a tough time for business, she said. The story was just beginning to bounce back.
“It’s unfortunate,” Alyssa Mangan said. “We were starting to see a growth of sales and now it’s almost cut off completely.”
The Webster Groves Chamber of Commerce will match gift card purchases at participating businesses. The chamber will also print T-shirts with businesses’ logos on them. Participating businesses will get $10 for each T-shirt sold.
Since they’ve had to close their doors, Angie Mangan said people have reached out and asked what they could do to help. Residents call and tell her they want to support local businesses.
“We’re getting support here and there, but it’s definitely not where we need it to be,” Alyssa Mangan said.
Since the coronavirus caused the Mangans to close their doors, they’ve had to hurry years of forward-thinking into weeks. They started an online shop for Blue Dahlia Designs, something they didn’t plan on doing for the next two to three years. They began doing curbside pickup and delivery for orders over $50. The Mangans started doing curbside pickup as well as local deliveries within a $15 mile radius of the store.
Angie Mangan said she misses the connections she used to make with her customers. She loves spreading her passion for design at the store she dreamed so long about opening. Going online is not ideal.
“We don’t want to just buy and sell stuff,” she said. “We want to make connections with our customers and help them design.”
Mayor Welch encourages people to buy from local stores, to call people who live by themselves.
“For right now, the best thing you can do is to stay socially distant,” Welch said. “When we come out of this, we’re really gonna need each other.”