POSTCARD FROM THE PANDEMIC: “Support your local small businesses. They’re really hurting right now.”
Kory Helfman is the owner of Ken’s Man’s Shop in Preston Royal Center. The store has served customers at that location since 1993. His father started the business in 1964 in Garland. Helfman has a 19-year-old who is a freshman at the University of Texas and an 18-year-old who is a senior at the School of Science and Engineering at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center. Both sons live at home with him due to the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, Helfman is a sensei with Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense. Before the coronavirus, he ran an after-school program for 70 kids at Mockingbird Elementary. He leads online classes for children during the pandemic.
His new typical routine: I still get up early in the morning and do my workouts, but instead of going to the dojo, I work out in my driveway. My neighbors think I’m crazy. After my boys are settled in, I come to work. I’ve been at work every day since this all started. Even though my lights are off, I am still trying to maintain connections with my clientele. I am getting requests. Some wear suits and now need items appropriate for Zoom. We know all of our clients and we know their sizes. A quick picture of a new client tells me his size as well. My sons make deliveries after they get off online for school. I have everything packaged with gloved hands. Everything’s safe and we’re keeping our social distance. I had a funeral last week. People still have clothing needs.
On his new business strategy: We still treat our customers the same. Customer care has always been our number one thing besides the quality of our merchandise. We always love to say that we hug our customers, which is hard to do at this point. Since we can’t be there in person for our customers, we’re accessible on social media, whether it’s Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook. For the last two weeks, I’ve been cataloging the store. I am taking it online, so it will be on Shopify. Hopefully by late next week I’ll have that up and running. We’ve also changed our website. We have a gift card idea for those who would love to support us. If you buy a $100 card, then you get a Haberdashers $25 card on top of it. If you buy a $500 card, you get a $100 Haberdashers card on top of it. It’s just a nice way of thanking our clients for supporting us.
How the Oct. 20 tornado impacted the store: It was right across the street from us. That whole center was destroyed. We had a window and a door blow out. We didn’t have damage to the merchandise. We had damage to the physical structure of the store. We lost our HVAC system, and the roof was compromised. But we were able to fix everything and be back in business within 12 days. We had an amazing fall and holiday season, and we were able to make up that ground.
His advice to neighbors: Stay safe. Be aware. That’s probably my sensei side coming out. We’re always teaching about self-awareness and safety. You can still be a part of your community. We have a unique neighborhood with a mix of families with young kids and new babies, all the way up to some older grandparents who just don’t get out as often. We love to send out a message saying, “Hey, we’re running up to the store, does anyone need anything?” We’ll pick things up, bag them separately, throw them on the doorsteps, and then people Venmo each other. Support your local small businesses. They’re really hurting right now. We have retained our employees, but it’s difficult times and everyone is scared.
About his sons: I love having my boys with me. I always have, but it’s just good to have them home and know that they’re safe.
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