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Columbus clothing store owner shares ups and downs of business during pandemic

Small business owner works to adapt amid COVID-19

"We do have people come in on the weekends, walk-in traffic during OSU games and there are new hotels in the Short North. We've had so many visitors discovering us for the first time," says Maren Roth owner of Rowe Boutique in the Short North. 

Rowe boutique is a popular place for visitors, but also for regular clients who come in to see owner Maren Roth. 

"We have a loyal following and clientele, they have my cell number, they know my daughter's name. A lot of us have become friends," she says.

But after closing in March, as mandated by the governor, Roth had to figure out a new to way to serve her customers. 

"We have no playbook for this. So it's been a really scary process," she describes the ups and downs during the pandemic.

That process meant focusing on her website sales and social media. 

"We're lucky we had an online presence already. What's been interesting is how to pivot your business to appeal to more masses, people in other states.  It's a lot of effort, way harder than walking in the store and say I want to re-merchandise today. Online it's a totally different story. You have to get to them, you have to hook them and you have to keep them," she explains.

Roth says those online sales still haven't brought in the business they're used to having. 

"It's been hard, it's been a loss, plus it's been hard because you have overhead and you're working 10 times harder," she says.

And while her walk-in business is temporarily closed, just down the street, Tigertree made the decision to shut down for good. 

"Having that void, they were such an anchor in the neighborhood. Josh and I opened on the same day. It's going to be tough not seeing them there. I hope one day they come back," Roth says.

For now, Roth says she will focus on increasing online clientele and pick up orders.

She's hoping people continue supporting small local businesses like hers so retailers can make it through 2020. 

"I want everyone to support us because they want to not because they need to, but right now we really need them to," she says.

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