Last week, Dallas chocolate shop CocoAndré, decided to close their storefront and only offer curbside pickup or delivery due to COVID-19.
“Even though it’s not mandatory here in Texas, slowly but gradually we’ve been incorporating ordering online,” cofounder of CocoAndré, Cindy Pedraza said.
The family-owned shop is now wearing gloves when accepting credit cards, but mostly they are encouraging customers to pre-pay online.
“It’s been really emotional. I started crying on Instagram. People are DMing me and asking me are you open today. They still want us to be there,” Cindy said.
According to Cindy, business has been slower, but she is grateful for all of the support she has received from her local community.
“When I make a post [on Instagram] or I go live, [customers] start showing up,” she said.
Luckily, platforms like Instagram have helped CocoAndré stay connected to their community.
“I feel like social media did help. We are staying busy because of social media,” Cindy said.
What many customers don’t realize is that the shop relies heavily on sales made from weddings, commercial airlines, and special events. But lately due to cancelations, these types of sales have decreased by over fifty percent.
In fact, Cindy recently worked with an organization that already sent her a check, but unfortunately they canceled their event so she issued them a full refund.
“Some businesses said they’re going into non-refundable mode and they’re not going to issue refunds, but I feel like that’s bad service. That’s not us,” Cindy said.
As of now, Cindy has been avidly listening to NPR hoping to get more information about small business loans and how to apply.
“Now, I’m in research mode trying to figure out how we’re going to stay afloat if this goes on for three or four months,” Cindy said.
While Cindy does appreciate all of the support from her community, she said she feels uncomfortable asking people to make purchases because everyone is going to face financial trouble.
“Eventually we’re all going to feel it, when people are starting to get laid off. When companies can’t keep paying people as well. I’m kind of worried about that too,” Cindy said.
For now, Cindy plans on creating one-of-a-kind specialty boxes to keep her customers engaged.
“I made a Selena box. I made a conchita box that you can send out for somebody’s birthday,” Cindy said.
Cindy has also been interacting with other small business owners—helping brainstorm ideas and sharing her own tips and tricks for how to navigate a business under no-contact policies.
But she has also had some business owners discourage her from helping others. One person even warned her that now was the time to be selfish, but Cindy adamantly disagrees.
“I don’t want to be the one that succeeds and others fail. I love seeing that I’m interacting more with a lot more businesses. I don’t see it as a competition,” Cindy said.
Cindy hopes that other small business owners will follow suit and will help each other during these difficult times.
“I know the dollars are getting scarcer and scarcer, but I feel like if you’re putting out good energy people will still want to support you,” Cindy said.
CocoAndré ships chocolate all over the United States. To place an online order, click here.
Follow CocoAndré on Instagram
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