“I have to go to them because we're in a different time. I can't hang out here my store and just expect people to come in the doors like they used to."
“2020 started off great for Tres’ Fine Clothing. We had just been featured in the news and people were flooding in here. More than we had ever seen before. I would say the month after the article, our business doubled. So we were saying, man, we've got this steam, we've gained momentum, this is going to be a beautiful year.
Then in the middle of March, you start seeing that people are getting sick in other countries. Then you start hearing about canceling flights. But it really didn't hit until one day when I was sitting in the coffee shop next door really early in the morning and one of the regulars came in who usually has her son with her. She said she had to find a tutor for her son because they sent all the kids home from school. We all kind of looked at each other like, like, why? She said, ‘Well, everybody's getting sick.’ Then she added, ‘They’re sending us home and we're going to start working from home.’ Right then it kind of started settling in. Something serious was happening.
And so at that point, I shut down for a little bit and I was cleaning everywhere. We didn’t know what to do because we hadn't experienced it before, so we bought all these cleaners and hose pipes where we could run water all the way to the front of the store. We were spraying the windows down, scrubbing the floors.
Then we started seeing a real drop in customers. Maybe 10 people a day. Then it started diving down to five, then it was dropping down to two. That's how we started realizing how serious it was. People were afraid to go out.
We shut down at the end of March and opened back up at the end of May. Then I had one of the biggest months I've ever had in my business. I think it was because people were so excited to just be back out. Then July and August came, and those were two of the worst months. From July up into December, it was slow. So slow that a couple of my clothes distributors shut down. Closed their business forever. I couldn't get, you know, clothes from them.
In the middle of December, at the encouragement of my friend Isaac, I got into the custom clothing business. In the first two weeks, I did about $7,000. So it’s been good. That's where I am now, focusing more on custom clothing. People aren’t coming in to try on clothes because they don't know who tried it on before them and they're not going into dressing rooms because they don’t know who was in there before them. It's a psychological thing, and it really affects the clothing industry. The clothing industry is so hands on, it's so touchy. You have to touch something to see if you like it. If you see a sweater you like, you have to grab it, pick it up, put it on, you know what I mean.
So custom clothing is my focus. I’m working on five commercials to promote online, on social media, to kind of get the ball back rolling and gain some momentum. And then from there, I'm gonna start doing radio advertisements. I am letting people know that hey, you don't have to come to me, I can just pack my custom swatches and measuring tape and a mirror and I can come to your business, your office, or your home. I have to go to them because we're in a different time. I can't hang out here my store and just expect people to come in the doors like they used to. Times are just different. You have to go out to meet people where they are.”
-- Tres Washington, Tres’ Fine Clothing (January 2021)