ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Krista Bandy is busier than ever in her Arroyo Grande children's consignment and gift shop Hello Village.
"Business is good despite everything that is going on," said Bandy, who has owned the store since it opened late 2017.
Many business across the nation are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, including several nearby in the Village of Arroyo Grande.
Bandy, though, is bucking the trend, and is experiencing a surge in sales.
"Even though shoppers aren't in, it feels like we are open," said Bandy. "It feels like coronavirus hasn't even hit."
She's found a way to stay afloat, and even thrive, by using her creativity, being innovative, and through a lot of good old fashioned hard work.
"You really have to think outside the box," said Bandy. "If something doesn't work, try something else. Collaborate with other businesses. Anything that you can do to keep your name in people's minds."
With customers unable to come inside her store, Bandy has listed her entire stock online, on her newly created website, www.shophellovillage.com.
"Everything that you see in the store is on our website," said Bandy. "All the consigned clothing. All the new toys, new clothing. Everything is on there."
There are more than 5,000 items listed on her website, which, as luck would have it, was actually created just a few weeks before the coronavirus pandemic started.
"Beginning of the year, we started putting everything on the website," Bandy said. "We were slow at first, but as soon as soon as coronavirus hit, every single thing went on the website. Doesn't matter what it is, no matter if it's $1.95 or it's $24.95, it's on the website. That's really what has helped us through this time."
With her online presence now picking up, combined with an aggressive social media marketing campaign, Hello Village is significantly expanding its customer base.
"We have actually gotten a lot of new customers from this," said Bandy. "We have orders all the way from Massachusetts to Colorado. We've had Arizona. We've had one in Hawaii. We've had pretty much everywhere. When you have a website, you're not just catering to who's around you. You're catering to everyone who can type that website in."
While many orders are coming in from outside the area, core customers are still local, many of whom stop by the store to pick up merchandise with curbside delivery.
"It's different, but she's set it up really good," said customer Jennifer Newsom. "She's made it really easy and the parking is right in front of the store and then she'll bring it out. It just makes everything a lot easier."
Even with a regular flow of customers driving by, Bandy said she is anxious to return to business as usual, what it was like before anyone had heard of coronavirus.
"It's weird not having people come in," said Bandy. "It's almost lonely. When I do greet the people at their car to drop off their order, we do chat a little bit because that human interaction is really what is missed."
When in-store shopping does return, which could be in the near future, Hello Village is primed for customers to come back inside.
"We did change the layout of the store so it gives more open space to abide by the six foot distance rule," said Bandy. "I think our customers are ready. I think no matter what, we're going to survive this, so I'm really excited. I think we'll stay in there. I think we'll hang in there."