August 6, 2020
By: Kirby Lavallee
TAMPA, Fla.- The shelves are stocked at Rustic Love Vintage and More, but Chi Chi and Doug Crocker are lacking the customers they need to keep their family-run business operating during their first three months in business. April 4th was supposed to be the big day for their brand new store in Carrollwood, but instead, it was a time of mandatory closures and uncertainty.
Chi Chi’s passion for antique furniture restoration started over 3 decades ago when she began to sell vintage goods. Her attention to detail and quality service was a hit and she began to field calls from several people in the Bay Area looking for rare finds. Three packed to the brim storage units later and a house full of antique collections, her husband Doug and she knew it was time to open a brick and mortar store. Growing up in a Hispanic family, Chi Chi always worked hard at her family’s businesses, and she knew that she wanted to do the same for her children. Chi Chi’s vision was to build a strong business that her two children could call their own. Her children, Joey and Vickie have both been learning the trade for years. Now the family of four runs the shop daily, from stocking shelves to custom painting of furniture- they all have their hands in a little bit of everything.
“We have all had to quickly learn to become good at several things in the business,” said Joey when asked about how the pandemic is shifting their brand new business.
Build it and they will come, right? Wrong. The odds of business failure outside of a pandemic are roughly 20% in the 1st year alone, so businesses opening during this time are already fighting an uphill battle. According to Facebook and a recent poll they conducted with small business owners, nearly 31 percent were no longer operating and many more were set to fail in the next few months if the conditions stay the same. What does this mean for businesses opening during the pandemic? They are having to be creative with spreading their word about their existence to drive sales.
“Our community outreach efforts have stopped due to in-person events being canceled, so we have had to spread our message on social media,” says Chi Chi Crocker. Rustic Love along with many other businesses that relied on in-person networking has come to a screeching halt.
Chi Chi says, “They have been able to survive this far by adapting every day, it’s the most critical thing we are doing at the moment.”
Now, Chi Chi, like many other businesses, are engaging with its customers online in hopes of getting them in their store to buy their products.
As you open the door at RusticLove you feel like you are right at home. From good old fashion service to high-quality products, you are bound to enjoy your visit. One thing I found especially cool was the extensive knowledge that the Crocker’s have as it relates to vintage work and restoration. The store is a Dixie Belle Paint Premier Retailer, which is a high-quality chalk paint made just north of Tampa in Port Richey. Not only can you purchase the paint for your own projects, but they also do custom work. They also specialize in hard to find antique furniture sales and will work to find you a specific piece of furniture, if they don’t have it in stock.
“We are a community business and we want to help the local community. Our family looks forward to being able to help you out with your next project” she said.
Visit https://rusticlovevintage.com/ to learn more about Rustic Love, Vintage and More.
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