As the pandemic disrupts life across the globe, everyone is being forced to adapt and make sacrifices during the unprecedented crisis. None may be more affected than small businesses, with many being forced to temporarily shutter or adapt operations due to a new normal ushered in by state regulations and social distancing measures.
According to a recent study from SmartAsset, the City of Falls Church ranks third overall in best places for small businesses and more than 29 percent of City residents depend on small business income, the fifth highest figure in the state.
The News-Press has asked Falls Church area businesses to share their pandemic challenges and struggles and how the virus has affected operations and the adaptations they’ve had to make in response. Each week, we’ll be sharing their stories.
Today’s featured business: Zoya’s Atelier.
When we opened our doors in January 2017 in the midst of a snow storm, little did we know what was to come… We were newcomers to the area, total outsiders (a New Yorker and a Londoner!) and yet we were welcomed with open arms by Falls Church residents, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. My mother-in-law Zoya and I wanted to create a different kind of bridal and evening wear shop — where people could come from far and wide for an honest opinion, a gorgeous gown and have fun whilst shopping for their special event. Fast forward three years and two months and we, along with the entire world, found ourselves facing a pandemic the scale of which we have never experienced before.
On March 23rd, we felt that we had to close our doors to keep our customers, and staff safe. However, the sheer amount of unknowns was overwhelming. When would we re-open? How could we support our brides and be there for our customers if we couldn’t even let them in the door? How would we keep our employees on payroll if we couldn’t have any customers?
Zoya quickly decided we should shift our focus to making face masks, and give them out to anyone who felt vulnerable — free of charge — to give back to the community that had so warmly welcomed us into the ‘Little City’ over the past few years.
What we have experienced over the past few weeks has been nothing short of miraculous, heartwarming and truly exemplifies the ‘better together’ hashtag we have so frequently been using. We have met in a (socially distanced) face-to-face or virtual capacity, so many incredible Falls Church residents that we would otherwise never have met. They have been entirely grateful for being able to go about their grocery shopping feeling just a little more prepared and safe. We have provided masks for healthcare professionals, construction workers, teachers, restaurant workers, supermarket employees, City Hall and many more. We have a workforce made up of the most dedicated ladies you could ever wish for; Luvia, Ara, Adele and Erykah. They make me more and more proud each day to come into work. Their unwavering determination to see if they can beat the previous day’s mask count is quite astounding.
So how can you support us?
• We have activated our online store and gift certificates, so anyone dreaming of the day when they can next attend a gala or party should take a look – and maybe get a bargain bag or something sparkly!
• We are holding ‘virtual appointments’ on Facetime for brides and mothers of the bride and groom, so that customers can take a look at gown options ahead of a ‘real life’ appointment.
• Due to an overwhelming number of requests from people wanting to help us with our supply and operating costs, we have added a ‘Donate’ button to our homepage.
Falls Church may be ‘The Little City’, but what a strong Little City we are…
— Amy Bitici, Manager, Zoya’s Atelier
260 West Broad Street, Falls Church 22046, www.zoyasatelier.com
Tell us the history of your Falls Church small business, how the virus has affected your operation and the adaptations, struggles and more you’re facing during this unprecedented crisis. Photos, along with the commentaries, are welcome and encouraged. Please send submissions, up to 500 words, to [email protected]