DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – Opening a clothing store amid the coronavirus pandemic is something Abbey DeStefano has guessed for a long time.
âI totally questioned it,â DeStefano said. âI had signed the lease, I had paid my rent for the first two months; then when the mask warrant came in it was even scarier.
Now, right after celebrating Vivie Boutique’s first anniversary, she and her store manager have said they are finally seeing it all pay off.
âPeople go back to the office, so they come on their lunch break, more restaurants are opening so they will come before or after dinner, but it’s been great,â DeStefano said.
“They can’t wait to go out and shop in person, take off the masks and really experience the shopping the way it should be,” added Dana Huettman, store manager.
The store specializes in women’s clothing. So they said some of the most popular items in recent weeks included dresses for graduation, baby shower and weddings. They said shoppers tell them they feel more comfortable attending events as restrictions have eased and more people are vaccinated.
This fear of a lack of customers, however, was widespread. This was also the case at Graham’s Style Store, according to its president, Ben Graham.
âIt was awhile ago that I was thinking, ‘I’m never going to sell a white shirt again,’â Graham said.
Graham said that has now changed. He explained that he has now ordered 12 to 15 white shirts in a specific period of time.
âAnd it’s kind of an indicator, a basic indicator, that people are starting to dress and put more relevance on clothing,â Graham said.
The store is located in downtown Dubuque, a place he says is known to be vibrant and full of energy. He acknowledged that this is something that is making a comeback after the pandemic forced many people to work from home.
âIt feels like there’s more and more energy and vitality,â Graham said. “Especially at lunchtime, 5 or 8 o’clock, there are people hanging around all the time and there is just more energy everywhere.”
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