Changing times, moving online
Enchanted Rose Garden boutique uses technology to adapt
Running a small business, especially in a field like retail, has always been a tough game. Add to that the effects of the pandemic, and many small local businesses have been forced to close. The Enchanted Rose Garden Boutique in Penfield has an eighteen-year history in the community, with customers they call family. The boutique carries a large selection of moderately priced giftware, women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry, with many American-made items.
Still, the pandemic has tested the small business owner to think outside of the box to keep customers engaged when everyone is staying home. Miraculously, the Enchanted Rose Garden found a way to not only survive but thrive in the challenging economy. Now they have not only reopened their doors but are serving a larger customer base with online shoppers coming in from all over the US.
“We are one of the lucky ones,” says owner Eileen Wrona. “We have adapted into something fairly different while still remaining a small family business.”
Last spring, Eileen’s twenty-two-year-old daughter, Jessie, returned home to Penfield after earning her degree in musical theater. With a pandemic on the rise and New York City in lockdown, Jessie knew it wasn’t the time to follow her Broadway dreams. With a lifetime of experience around the boutique, Jessie set her sights on helping the family business survive.
“She helped changed our focus while we were closed and helped me to adapt our business model to focus online,” says Eileen, who had spent years advertising mostly through print ads and word-of-mouth. Jessie encouraged Eileen to grow the boutique’s Facebook presence, running paid ad campaigns and starting weekly Facebook Live events on Sunday nights to showcase new items available for sale. In a unique twist, Eileen, Jessie, and a part-time employee decided to model the clothes available—each woman a different size and body type—to show potential customers how an item might fit them.
“We try the same item on in our respective sizes,” says Eileen. “Our customers want to know what something looks like and feels like. It’s perfect for women who want to be home but still shop.”
Even though the boutique has now re opened its doors for in-person shopping, the Facebook Live and online outreach continue. In addition to mailing orders, the boutique also offers curbside pickup.
“As a family business, we are focused on our own safety and keeping our customers safe,” says Wrona. “Being a small business has worked to our advantage; people are looking to find smaller ways of doing things in general.”
Wrona’s eighteen-year reputation as a business owner in the Penfield community has certainly contributed to her success. The boutique’s Facebook page shows photos of Eileen and Jessie holding homemade snacks or wine given to them by customers as gifts. During a phone interview for this story, Eileen paused several times to give warm hellos to customers or answer questions.
“The idea of the family business has gone by the wayside in the past ten to twenty years,” says Wrona. “People feel as if we are family. They know us personally. Now through our Facebook Live [events], we can talk to each other even more. I didn’t expect all of this to come out of the pandemic.”
As for the next eighteen years and more, Eileen is proud to have the legacy of the boutique. She started the shop with her mom, who passed away from cancer in 2009, and she is proud to have her daughter, Jessie, by her side for now.
“It’s still a partnership,” says Wrona. “It’s with my daughter, which I never would have expected. Her whole life I always told my customers to come see her in shows. Now, they come in here, and they know her whole life story. It’s a good way to raise a child. I’ve been lucky.”
For hours and more information, visit enchantedrosegardenboutique.com or find it on Facebook.