Take A Hike and Take Two Boutique Owner Diane Petryna is turning to the internet to run her business.
THUNDER BAY – After more than 25 years of successfully running a retail business in Thunder Bay, Diane Petryna, owner of Take A Hike and Take Two Boutique, is transforming her operations into a digitally-driven business.
After enduring two years of pandemic hardship and the ever-changing retail landscape, Petryna says she’s become a “pivoteur” in need of constant re-adaptation.
Out of frustration, she began using the internet to interact with her customers, which enabled her to demonstrate her products and make sales without physical contact.
“What I did out of desperation in the pandemic is start a live stream shopping show on Facebook, which is now on YouTube,” she said. “The show is called Shop with Diane. I explain in detail to my customers the non-apparel products I have in my store, describe the features and benefits and share testimonials from my customers. I was shocked (to see) that 75 people actually came to see me live. I could never have imagined that there would be so many people in my store.”
In 1996, Petryna operated what she believed to be the only business in North America focused solely on the needs of women and their families who enjoy a casual lifestyle and the outdoors. After years of good sales, innovative marketing ideas and retail prices, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions seriously hampered their clothing sales and forced them to use the internet.
“I was locked up, I couldn’t sell clothes. In my first month of being on lockdown during the pandemic, sales were under $2,000 a month,” she said.
“My shop is sitting here in the basement with women’s clothing, fall, winter, spring and summer because I’m stuck in a market that isn’t recovering.”
She says retail marketers have identified the top predictions for 2022 that focus on the popularity of live stream shopping on social platforms. Unlike websites with product images and prices, live stream shopping offers face-to-face interaction via video.
This is evident in the many problems that arise when buying clothes from a website.
Expanding her research on the live stream marketing strategy, Petryna looked to Asian markets, where she says they’ve “gone crazy” with the concept in terms of growth. She even self-funded a trip to Hong Kong to visit people at the forefront of this technology.
“Research before the pandemic showed that the problem with selling clothes online is that they don’t fit,” Petryna said.
“Up to 60 percent of clothes bought online are reportedly returned. Oh my God. This is a huge environmental problem. It is a very expensive undertaking for a company to embark on.”
Petryna says she didn’t go that route and used her experience working with different brands and their clients to come up with an idea of how to get that fit without the client being physically present – and her live stream Shopping show was born.
“People tuned in and placed an order during or after the show,” she said. “It’s amazing because we’re standing outside (in front of the store) and the items are already prepaid, we’re physically separated, and I’ve seen and helped people throughout the pandemic – with coping or not.”
To date, she has hosted 88 shows.
“People come and watch the show regularly. They built a community,” she said.
The people who comment or interact get to know each other and feel like a community of good-hearted people. And that’s it. A beautiful group of people who come together every week and when we have physically given up our social groups we use this as a new virtual community of genuinely lovely people.”
Meanwhile, Patryna still has the problem of a store full of clothes that she has to liquidate in order to close the storefront.
“I have to get rid of this. I have to detach. I’m sitting on the Titanic. . . . And I have first class passage. But we know what happened to the Titanic,” she said, adding that she wasn’t worried.
Located on McKellar Street across from Fort William Gardens, Patryna’s Store is a safe place to shop with an additional green space for outdoor shopping. She will be selling her clothing inventory so she can focus solely on her live stream shopping show with her many other products.
The Chronic Journal