MERIDIAN, Idaho — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many small businesses to shut their doors for good, but one mother-daughter duo in Meridian is counting their blessings as business is booming.
"We thought if we close our doors, we’re just not going to make it yet; we’re not that established," co-owner Kayloni Perry said. "So our first thought was, we’re going to sell everything we have in the store and walk away."
But then Perry's mom and co-owner, Cheryl Jones, had an idea: live sales on social media.
“Why not? We’ll give it a go and see if it works,” Perry said.
The sales start at 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, live-streamed on Instagram and Facebook. The pair decided to call the sales 'Live at 5 to Survive' hoping remote shoppers could help them stay afloat.
Fast forward a few months, and they're a business staple.
"We started with maybe six people that watched and shopped, and ever since it’s just blossomed, it’s been unreal," Perry said.
The mother-daughter duo behind 44 East in Meridian turned to technology to save their business amid Covid-19. I'll take you behind the scenes of one of their live social media sales tomorrow on @IdahoNews6. (Shot by @DouglasRandel!) pic.twitter.com/2hBcl97qX4— Karen Lehr (@KarenLehr) August 4, 2020
With a focus on products from other local small businesses, a local fan base followed. Now dozens of people tune in every Tuesday and Thursday and simply comment to claim an item.
"If I’m featuring something, I’ll know I have six of this item; and it’s the first six [customers] to say ‘I want a blanket,' ‘I want a blanket,' and then we just write it down as we go," Perry said.
After arranging payment, the duo will even deliver the items for free, as a way to say thanks for the support.
"We just wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them," Jones said. "We would not be here."
"In the two and half years that we've been open, we have never paid ourselves; that's not what we're in this for, we literally just put all our money back in the business," Perry said. "And for the first time now, initial debt is gone and we're paying employees to work our store, and paying employees to work our live [sales], and finally for the first time we're seeing our business move forward in the right way to where we can maybe support ourselves and it can become part of our livelihood hopefully."
"We just feel very, very blessed," Perry said. "It’s just been unreal. It’s a positive light in a very dark time."