Store owner gets creative to help customers, keep business going

MISHAWAKA, Ind. --- For children during quarantine, much of their daily routine has changed, such as their classroom setting. The one thing that cannot be changed, though, is that kids are outgrowing their clothes.

As the weather across the Michiana area begins to warm up, one local small business owner is getting creative by bringing the spring essentials to families—social distancing style.

The pandemic has hit both families and small businesses hard, which motivated one business owner to come up with a creative way to keep business going and help families get what they need.

“A questionable time, very scary time,” Tracy Schrimsher said, owner of Once Upon A Child in Mishawaka and Goshen.

Once Upon A Child stores in Mishawaka and Goshen closed their doors more than a month ago on March 19.

“Having to let all of the employees go, you know, that was horrible,” Schrimsher said. “A lot of them have been with us for so many years.”

The owner, Tracy Schrimsher, left wondering.

“Oh my gosh, what do we do now,” Schrimsher said.

Schrimsher hoped for the best, thinking they might be able to open back up again soon enough, but as time passed, Schrimsher realized that would not be the case.

“We need to do something,” Schrimsher said. “Our customers—their kids are still growing.”

Eventually, the idea for spring essential boxes was born. The goal is to make shopping easy and safe for families.

“And a customer could call us and we will pick out clothes for them and for $50 they get all kinds of stuff,” Schrimsher said. “You know, 5 or 6 shirts, they get shorts, they get jeans.”

That is not all; the boxes are also filled with items such as shoes, bathing suits and a variety of different toys from roller blades to creative kits and even puzzles.

“We actually give them about $60 worth of merchandise and they pay $50 plus tax,” Schrimsher said.

People can pick up their items in as little as an hour or have them shipped for just $10 more.

Thanks to a PPP loan, Schrimsher said she was able to bring her employees back to work on Monday.

“They depended on us every week for that paycheck and that was really hard when they weren’t here and so to have them back is a great feeling,” Schrimsher said.

Although the spring essential boxes are being sold at a discount, every cent helps to pay the bills and so far the pandemic promotion is a big hit.

“And just to help customers is, you know, that’s what we do though, you know, that’s the gratitude that we always have here is that we’re able to help the parents and they feel like they’re getting a good value and can save some money here,” Schrimsher said.

Schrimsher said she plans to continue the program for the foreseeable future because the feedback has been great and it is a convenient way for all parents to shop for their kids without ever having to step foot in the store.

All orders can also be customized if a person is interested in spending a different amount than $50.

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