Orchard Street Shop Continues Pushing Pencils During a Pandemic
Many independent neighborhood businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown, including CW Pencil Enterprise. Established in 2014, the pencil purveyor of Orchard Street is feeling the pains of the pandemic and adjusting as best they can during. Owner Caroline Weaver explains how they’ve been trying to keep the business afloat.
“Adapting to this new way of working has been the hardest part. 50% of our sales are in our physical shop, so having to get by just on online sales has been difficult… We’ve been trying really hard to make sure we’re in touch with our customers, and staying engaged in a way that’s sensitive to the fact that we’re experiencing a global crisis. Now is not the time to be posting a lot of sales-y content, so we’ve been spending most of our work-from-home time coming up with ways to distract and entertain our customers virtually. It’s delicate – finding a way to keep people buying things to keep everyone employed while not making them feel any pressure to do so.”
Despite the challenges, Weaver sees a silver lining wrapped within the community itself.
“I think I’ve cried at least once a day for the past seven weeks just reading emails, DMs, and letters from customers. Our community has been so supportive in ways other than just spending money on our website. They’ve made us really feel like we’re an important part their world and of the community, and have given us motivation to come back stronger, whenever that may be. I know that the New York City we’re going to come back to isn’t going to be the same one that we left, but I feel we’re all going to be a little bit more compassionate, patient and grateful on the other side.”
For now, it’s online orders. CW Pencils isn’t currently allowing in-store pick ups at 15 Orchard, and they’re shipping from the shop three days a week. Weaver assures us that only one employee is working at a time, and all surfaces and high contact areas are disinfected daily. They are also wearing masks and being careful when coming into contact with anyone delivering packages.
“Not being on Orchard Street every day has made me realize just how much I love all of my neighbors,” says Weaver. “I’m grateful to be part of such a strange and special little corner of the city. A few times, I’ve thought about what would happen if I were to decide to close the shop after all of this, but shop or no shop, I just can’t imagine spending my days anywhere else.”