Note: In Part 1 of our July series, we highlighted the effects of COVID-19 mandates on the pre-opening activities of Frosty Feet Running Company. In Part 2, we’ll look at owner Stacy Fisk’s approach to officially opening her storefront and the precautions taken to reduce the health risks to her customers.
Frosty Feet Running Company had 3 main objectives for the official opening of its storefront on June 6th, 2020:
- Make it Fun
- Make it Safe
- Make it Welcoming
Objective 1: Make It Fun
By June, Stacy knew one thing: 2020 had NOT been fun. Many race directors statewide had already cancelled their events, along with summer running groups. Ensuring social distancing at start and finish lines/checkpoints for both runners and spectators proved impossible. The need to constantly disinfect aid stations used by hundreds, sometimes thousands of runners didn’t seem realistic. And then there were races that required buses to transport runners.
Yet, when it came to grand opening, Frosty Feet knew it had a major advantage—a huge parking lot that would allow people to gather comfortably, and maintain social distancing. This would allow for her to organize a small cookout and a controlled group run. With the easing of stay-at-home orders, many runners would barely be seeing each other for the first time in over a month.
Objective 2: Make It Safe
Even with a large parking area, and the willingness among runners/customers to wear masks, Stacy knew there were other things to address with a grand opening. First, there was the potential for a large crowd. She knew from watching other states, that large crowds often resulted in increased COVID cases. After talking it over, Stacy decided to launch a soft open four days before the grand opening. For the first two days, she invited several customers for shoe fittings and purchases that allowed her to test her Point-of-Sales system. After that, we posted store hours without making an official announcement knowing the social media savvy of Frosty Feet followers. Within minutes Stacy receive a high volume of DMs asking if she was in fact open.
While the soft open occurred, social media posts primarily focused on promoting the grand opening. Frosty Feet started with a FB Event that provided a detailed schedule of the run, cookout, and raffle, and outlined our face mask requests in the description area. Though there was 1 scheduled time given for the run, we emphasized in following posts that we wished to staggard runners to maintain enough “breathing” space. Likewise, we emphasized the need for social distancing and face masks as needed following the run.
Stacy offered hot dogs for the cookout and single serve chips and soda. This sounds like no big deal, but Stacy is big on environmental sustainability. And single serve packaging isn’t exactly sustainability; however, Stacy knew the necessity of keeping people from handling food besides their own.
Objective 3: Make It Welcoming
Customer service is THE number 1 priority for Stacy. A lot of places may claim it’s a priority, but Stacy does not play around. In addition, a soft opening, and addressing any concerns for a grand opening, Stacy set up further options for people who were uncomfortable coming into the store while other people were there, or uncomfortable coming in at all. Customers are invited to schedule an appointment, in-person or online (via FB, Zoom, Google, etc.), for a full consultation that includes a gait-analysis, overview of shoe options, and fittings for those who come into the store. People who already knew their shoe preference could DM Stacy, email, or call in an order for curbside pickup. Since Stacy found herself in close proximity to customers during shoe fittings, she wore a mask, and respected the choices of her customers.
The success of Frosty Feet’s official opening started with realistic objectives that led to the development of a plan that took into account any potential health hazards while allowing runners and walkers to do what they love most. Since officially opening Frosty Feet, Stacy has shifted her social media campaign toward product announcements, education via FB Live, and establishing a group run from the store called Frosty Fridays. Soon she will begin to prepare runners and walkers for the fall to winter transition where temperatures can drop to 40 Below. For the time being, she knows that every decision she makes, marketing and otherwise, must be analyzed from a COVID-19 perspective. And though it would be easier to give up, that is just not Stacy. She truly believes in the power of running as a healthy outlet from all the surrounding frustrations, and a sport that will once again pull us through difficulty to victory.