Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the resourcefulness and adaptability of many small businesses has been their saving grace.
At VEDA LUX, a mainstay of Spokane’s trendy South Perry District, owner Summer Hightower has weathered the topsy-turvy stages of the pandemic through a little retail ingenuity.
“With the first shutdown, I thought, ‘OK, we have so many gift items in the shop.’ So I actually came up with gift package ideas. Basically, we put together curated gift packages like crystals and gems, snarky gift packs for people who are a little more edgy, care packages for yogis — all different types of people, even for kids,” she says.
The packages were such a hit that Hightower started thinking of different ways to apply the concept. That led to hand-delivered “fashion snack packs,” which are suitcases full of Veda Lux’s vintage clothing. Hightower picks items to suit the customer’s style, packs them into the suitcase, then drops it off for safe try-ons at home. Unwanted items go right back in the suitcase for return.
For the holiday season, she’s extending her idea to “mystery surprise care packages” offered at price points between $25 and $150. There might even be “secret Santa stockings” for Christmas.
“We’re just doing what we can to make shopping easy and convenient for everyone,” she says. “We’re happy to drop stuff on people’s porches, happy to gift wrap—whatever it takes to get people out there to support small businesses.”
And with Veda Lux, shopping local actually has a national impact.
“In our tiny little shop, we support over 30 small businesses across the country. I make all the jewelry for all of our gift items, but we also go out and look for really cool makers all across the U.S. You’re not just supporting one maker when you come into our store, you’re supporting many.”
The South Perry District’s many independently owned eateries — places like THE GRAIN SHED, THE LANTERN TAP HOUSE, WISCONSINBURGER, THE WELLNESS TREE JUICE BAR and more — are improvising, too. At PERRY STREET BREWING, they quickly rolled out their unused crowler (a portmanteau of can and growler) machine to distribute their craft beer safely in 32-ounce portable containers. Previously, the machine had been sitting in the storeroom waiting for the right opportunity.
“That was a benefit. We’re doing all of our beers that way. We’ve got about 11 on tap right now,” says Buddy Giese, the brewery’s manager. Customers can simply walk in or call ahead to request crowlers of their favorite brew. “It takes just two minutes, and then you’re out the door.”
To make better use of its small kitchen space and to pair the take-home beers with a more suitable to-go menu, the brewery also adapted its food offerings.
“We changed up to more of a Tex-Mex menu,” says Giese. “One person can put that out really fast compared to our other menu, which was a lot bigger and more complex. We’ve had some really good feedback about it. People are like, ‘This is awesome.’ And every month we’ll switch it up and add some new burritos.”
But, thankfully, some things have stayed the same. For the holiday season, the brewery is still planning on continuing its red envelope tradition. With every purchase, customers will get a sealed red envelope that they can redeem — one per visit — after the New Year. Prizes can range from South Perry Brewing swag to big-ticket items.
Veda Lux is located at 1106 S. Perry St. Visit vedalux.com to check out the latest curated collections or call 475-1674 to ask about gifts, clothes or personalized package deals. Perry Street Brewing’s current beer list and menu is online at perrystreetbrewing.com. Call ahead to 279-2820 with your crowler and to-go order, then pick it up at 1025 S. Perry St. Weather permitting, they have outdoor dining as well.