Search

When the going gets tough






My name is K McCarthy and I am the owner of the women’s clothing stores, Phoenix and Ruby in Carytown.  Before the pandemic, my business was doing well. I had every reason to believe that things were going to be great this year. The weather was cooperating, people were out early looking for spring clothing,  and the economy was humming along merrily. I had received most of my new inventory in February. The items were either sitting in boxes or hung up anticipating the shoppers at my retail locations and at the annual upcoming spring Bizarre Bazaar at the Richmond Raceway complex. I was stocked and ready to rock and roll. I told myself as I was approaching my anniversary of 43 years in business, I could easily make it to the half-century mark. No problem. I had always been passionate about helping people, sharing their stories, and surprising them with clothes they ended up loving.


Then in March everything changed. “What am I going to do now?” This was one of the first things I asked myself when the pandemic shut down my business over seven weeks ago. At first it was surreal and seemed like a vacation of sorts. I could read, catch up on Netflix shows and ride out the storm. Then I began to think about the harsh reality of what may lie ahead. I pondered the scenarios that would play out if I let myself go home and just wait. I thought about what my father told me when I was younger and found trouble staring me in the face – “When the going gets tough the tough get going.” So I made a plan and implemented it within a week after the shut down. I’ve owned multiple stores for 42 of my 43 years but my friends and family had always cautioned me "you only need one store" when I complained about how tired I was. The solution was finally obvious – just have one store…sort of. First I would move my store, Ruby Boutique, into the backroom of the Phoenix. Meanwhile, there were 10 years of paperwork to sort through, boxes of clothing, racks of back stock, and miscellaneous items seemingly everywhere. It was like moving out of a house, building a new house, and then moving into the new house all in less than six weeks time. It was daunting and exhausting, but I was in survival mode.


Then came the next battle -- Developing and opening an online store while I was still in the middle of moving Ruby into the Phoenix. As anyone who has tried starting a web- based business knows, the online shop had its own unique learning curve and challenges. Armed with an iPhone, white backdrop paper, and a clamp-on flo