After the announcement of a nationwide lockdown on December 14th, 2020 by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, all non-essential shops were forced to close indefinitely. For small businesses, this was a scary outlook. To overcome this, some vintage shops in the city of Groningen have found some creative ways to survive.
Aline Bus runs the store Onder de Linde, which is now offering video calls to take customers through the store. “It’s something people usually do when they are looking for something specific, and we can pick out some things they may like for them.” If the customer finds something they like, it can then be delivered to their house.
Small businesses like Aline’s suffer much more from a lockdown like this, and don’t necessarily have all the resources that big retail shops may have. That is why they have to improvise in order to be able to stay open. Aline has now also set up a webshop for her store, which is something she says she may not have done if it weren’t for the lockdown.
Vintage shopping is very popular among young people, but it is less accessible now. Keegan Steventon, a student from the Hague, usually shops exclusively at vintage stores, but doesn’t know what all the possibilities are now to do so online. “The only way I’ve been finding out about the things thrift stores have been doing is by actually walking past them and seeing the signs.”
When asked if he would be open to making use of initiatives like Aline’s he replied, “Oh hell yeah, I didn’t even know that existed.” Many people who shop at vintage stores don’t want to shop at big retailers, but are doing it more now out of convenience. This kind of innovation can help steer consumers back to more sustainable and ethical options.
Aline does miss the human element of her work. She doesn’t get to interact with her customers in person like she used to. “A big part of vintage clothing is that you want to see it, touch it and try it on, and people are missing that now.” Vintage stores usually sell unique pieces that may not translate onto an online space.
Aline hopes that her ideas will help to continue to engage with customers, and is looking forward to when her shop is allowed to reopen to the public, so she can interact with them again.