Obviously it’s not business as usual these days—in Hoboken, Jersey City, or anywhere for that matter.
Nevertheless, our local businesses will forever be the backbone of our communities. Bold entrepreneurs who struggle day in-day out to overcome the odds and serve the needs of our community are facing new and unprecedented challenges.
We recently had a chat with Noel Do, owner of Noellery (123 Washington Street, Hoboken | 321 Grove Street, Jersey City | 4 Church Street, Montclair) to take a look at Mother’s Day gifts, and find out how her business is doing “in these uncertain times…”
hMAG: How has the lockdown impacted you and your employees?
Noel Do: The mandated shutdown has resulted in a precarious drop off in in-store revenue. Each week we are forced to be closed, we are literally losing thousands of dollars. My employees can no longer come into work, so I worry about them as I took them in like family.
While there is government funding being extended to small businesses via the stimulus, I don’t think banks were well prepared to process applications fairly. I have found that there is zero in-person support on the commercial bank level related to PPP applications, and they are limited with what they can answer on the phone. And if you are somehow able to get through on the phone, it’s nearly impossible to speak with someone that can answer your questions as they are only corresponding via automatic emails for these applications. It is beyond frustrating…
Some of the supporting documents that they are asking for (P&L statements, balance sheets, etc.) are managed by a business owners’ CPA (if they can even afford to have one), and with every application the CPA will charge a fee for each filing. So there is an added cost on business owners to even be taken into consideration through the application process. It’s also tax season, so a lag in communication is expected as it is a busy time for accountants. It’s just a big convoluted mess.
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Over the years, life has taught me the importance of knowing how to swerve versus crashing. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned and you should always be actively hedging your company’s downside at all times. Each day is unpredictable. Who knew that Covid-19 would tear through the states the way it has? This happens to be one of those steep swerves to not just maneuver around but to plow through. So despite the aforementioned challenges, I am staying optimistic. We have been using our time wisely and prioritizing our efforts in growing our online channel at this time. The shutdown is out of my hands, so that is all we can do at this point.
h: How has traffic been on your website?
ND: Thankfully our online channel has picked up, but there are still many areas of our website that need to be improved. All I can say is that we are taking baby steps to create a more robust online presence each day. This pandemic has really been a wake up for me to rethink our growth strategy and invest into our digital footprint for the future.
h: What are some of the items you’d recommend for Mother’s Day?
ND: Mother’s Day in particular is a special day to show appreciation to mom’s of all forms. Necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets are the most popular gifts for Mother’s Day. Personalized jewelry from our initial collection makes a popular gift because of the sentimental meaning behind each letter. Pearl pendant necklaces and stud earrings also make popular gifts for the classic mom. If you know your mother’s birthstone, birthstone jewelry also makes a thoughtful treat when coupled with a handwritten note.
The point of Mother’s Day is to celebrate her, so I always recommend something meaningful for her regardless of the budget. Anything chosen big or small makes a great mother’s day gift, as long as thought was put into it. We are here to help with ideas if you ever need assistance.
How was business prior to the lockdown, and what do you see for the immediate future?
Prior to the lockdown, growth for Noellery was steady. Our new Spring collection was stocked and then Covid-19 hit so customers did not even get a chance to see some of our new arrivals. There are so many unknowns with this virus, so we are just trying to figure out how to prepare for what the new norm will be. Understanding consumer behavior is crucial in retail, and one concern I have is how long this virus will be embedded in consumers psyches and how that will alter in-store shopping behavior. I know that things will be different even when we are allowed to reopen our physical stores, and the economic impact of this remains to be seen. My ultimate goal is to bring calm and structure back into the stores quickly, so consumers are not afraid to shop. There are so many different scenarios being taken into consideration as Covid-19 concerns continue to grow. Growing the online channel will remain a priority for the time being.
What can Hoboken (government and residents) do to help our small businesses right now?
Help us spread the word to let others know that we are here for them online at www.noellery.com. If you can afford to shop, shop online with us. If you can’t, that’s ok, but do stay in touch. It’s really important to stay connected and engaged at this time, and to regularly check in with the younger and older generation to ensure they have the support needed to weather through what’s unfolding. We are in this together after all.