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Brands and Retailers Hold on During The Shutdown – Vol. 1

These are tough times for everyone, but they’re especially difficult for the small brands and retailers that make our fashion niche so unique. The massive shutdowns across the world are helping stem the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic. But like for all business it’s an unexpected difficulty for the brands and retailers in our community, ones that often operate with razor-thin margins even under the best of circumstances.

In what will become a weekly series, we’ll check in on them and their states of mind as we muddle through these dark times. In this edition we speak with Tony Patella of denim brand Tellason, distributor Grant Bloodworth of Bloodworth & Co., and Wyatt Gilmore of footwear label Grant Stone.

Tony Patella of Tellason


Image via Tellason.

Where in the world are you?

Sausalito, CA, USA.

What restrictions are currently in place there?

General quarantine, social distancing (~6 feet) when outside, essential services still open.

How have the last couple weeks affected you?

Domestic wholesale shipments have halted (with good reason).  Some international shipments are still going out (processed and shipped by one person) and web sales have been steady.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

No interest short-term loans (6-9 months) would be helpful to make sure suppliers that can supply get paid.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

“So far, the health of everyone I know. Being in California, where the local and state leadership is relying on science and common sense instead of the fluctuations of the stock market to make public health decisions; gives me hope and comfort. Also, the fact that my wife has worked in the medical field and I can say that our home is probably the most disinfected place anywhere.”

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

Keep an eye on Instagram for our ongoing Product of the Week 20% off sales, obviously any support helps!  If anyone out there knows of an organization that needs fabric to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), please let us know!

Grant Bloodworth of Bloodworth & Co.

Brands-and-Retailers-Holding-on-During-The-Shutdown Image via Bloodworth & Co.

Image via Bloodworth & Co.

Where in the world are you?

Los Angeles, CA: Mid-City.

What are the restrictions currently in place there?

Shelter in Place: Most shops closed, I have been out of the house only 3 times in the last week and half and just for supplies. The Velva Sheen factory is closed.

How have the last couple weeks affected you ?

Honestly, we are waiting to see the fallout. One of my brands (Velva Sheen) had to close the factory as they are located in LA. We can still ship here and there if the order has already been packed, but once those orders are out we are shut down until things reopen.

We are lucky in that we sell internationally and it seems like business is coming back in Asia. Most of our stockists are smaller brick and mortar, Mom and Pop retailers. These guys will be hit hard. It is way early to see the fallout for them, but reports so far lead me to believe that maybe 20% of these stores will close permanently. For me as an agent who depends on commissions and fees and finding new brands to work with, this is going to hit hard but we will weather the storm as best we can.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

Honestly as an independent agent, I expect nothing for me. What WOULD help is a rent freeze. This would help me as well as the specialty stores that we count on for business to stay open. This is my real worry.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

Knowing my friends and family are safe. Legal weed and living in LA (which means we have a car, a yard, and a way to get out if need arises).

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

Honestly I would say, 1:  if you still have a steady income and you are normally a customer, PLEASE go to your favorite shop that you don’t want to close and spend some money. Many shops are offering sale and even discounted gift cards. 2:  For the wholesale community we are working on a Shop Small Saturday type initiative to help our local boutiques. Any help or suggestions welcome.

Wyatt Gilmore of Grant Stone


In the warehouse (pre-social-distancing). Image via Grant Stone.

Where in the world are you?

Our factory in Xiamen, China has been open now since March 1st. Most of the people in the office made it back around that time but if you came from another city, you needed to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work. This was enforced country-wide. Our friends in the office are having a tough time because their kids still can’t return to school (3 months now) meanwhile they need to work. Now the factory is almost up to running as usual but as the virus has moved West, demand is the new issue. All we are hearing is brands cancelling any orders possible that aren’t already in the pipeline. Suppliers and factories are now concerned about getting paid for the orders already being processed.

For Grant Stone, our orders are so minimal and spread out, we aren’t adjusting anything that’s placed but will need to reassess upcoming orders.

Myself and our three other employees in MI are working from home while two of us run to the warehouse in the afternoon to fulfill orders. So far we have been able to maintain this but we are lucky we live in a rural area where the population is very small and you can leave your home without running into anyone. I’m not pessimistic, but I won’t be surprised if we cannot ship in the near future.”

What are the restrictions currently in place there?

We haven’t experienced any restrictions due to our place of work not being accessible to the public and having few employees. We just need to do our part in taking precautions and working home where possible. I am not sure how long this will last though, whether the likes of a warehouse will need to shutdown as well [Michigan has since shutdown at the time of publication].

How have the last couple weeks affected you?

Our production has been affected since January as we are in China. Everything was pushed back, although it is still a work in progress. However, sales are down as well and people have been canceling pre-orders so we are just trying to stay on top of it.

What does your business need to weather this crisis?

It is difficult to say at this point, but in comparison to the average company, our brand is very small with minimal moving pieces. Our goal is just to make sure our three employees are being paid each month.

What (if anything) is bringing you peace and calm right now?

Just that most people around this world want to overcome this and continue working. Hopefully, most can do their part in avoiding public places and stay safe. In our area, it seems like people generally grasp the severity of the situation and are taking precautions.

Anything you want to tell customers or the community?

We have been running a site wide sale since the middle of March for the first time ever. I feel (hope I’m wrong) this could be a prolonged lull that we will need to wait out. Our concern is to have excess inventory and no funds to move forward.

If you’re a brand or retailer and would like to let us know how you’re doing, please answer the above questions along with a landscape photo at editors at heddels dot com. Stay safe out there!

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