Photo by PhotOle Photography
Knock Knock Boutique owner accessorizes with a positive approach.
Emily Drobnock is passionate about accessories. So much so that she turned a parent-fostered love of flea market finds, family heirlooms and vintage costume pieces into an expanding business.
Knock Knock Boutique at 8 S. Market St. in Elizabethtown opened three years ago, just a couple of years after her Hershey store of the same name debuted. She is also the owner of Bella Sera Boutique in Hershey.
Specializing in affordable fashion accessory options, Knock Knock Boutique in Elizabethtown was closed for 12 weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These months have been difficult for Drobnock who, like other Lancaster County business owners, is adjusting to a new business normal.
Helping her in that process is the Lancaster County Economic Recovery Plan led by the Lancaster Chamber and the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County. Drobnock not only registered for and received one of Recovery Lancaster’s free COVID-19 Supply Kits, but she was also awarded a $35,000 grant from the plan’s Lancaster County Small Business Recovery & Sustainability Fund.
The best thing about my customers: I am constantly in awe of what people do for others whether it be in their career, or thinking of a friend, when they are picking out a gift, and most recently, reaching out to me during the COVID-19 shutdown to just check in. It was completely unexpected, and (it) comforted me to hear the support our customers had for us.
The greatest effect the pandemic has had on me as a business owner: It caused me to pause. We are very much a non-essential business. When people are quarantined, do they really need new earrings?! … I was able to reflect … and make plans to improve Knock Knock. As most business owners do, we work tirelessly behind the scenes, and that didn’t stop during quarantine. But it did offer a shift in my perspective. It also allowed us to get to know our customers a little more with nightly social media questions about silly things, like what their favorite movie is … their favorite candy, etc.
The Recovery Lancaster COVID-19 Supply Kit: Was amazing! The support of the Lancaster Chamber has been so encouraging, from webinars to the COVID-19 Supply Kit. My employees and I have utilized the masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometer as we reopen and continue to navigate these rocky waters. During a time when hand sanitizer was at a premium, and when funds were low, we were thankful to receive this life-saving bundle.
What wearing face masks in public means: I wear a mask, and I require a mask in my store, because I do not want to put my family, my employees, or my customers at risk of contracting the virus. Since we can be a part of containing the spread in our controlled environment, we are doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe. With our doors being closed for months, requiring a face mask is such a small ask for our business to reopen and serve the public. It would be devastating if we would have to close again. We at Knock Knock wear face masks out of consideration for all. And, it’s summer’s hottest accessory! Literally! We carry sparkly masks, print masks, and even mask refreshing spray, and that definitely makes wearing a mask more enticing to me.
Three things the economic shutdown taught me: 1. Be flexible. Absolutely nothing is guaranteed to you, and your ability to shift focus and channel that entrepreneurial spirit may save or preserve your business. 2. Stay positive! (Interacting) with people via social media was so fun and, in the midst of a pandemic, was a … way to stay positive and connected safely. 3. Listen to others. People have so many different views on COVID-19. I am listening and learning and want to be respectful of others. Listening can alert you to how comfortable people feel, create good dialogue, and maybe even expand your perspective. It’s a tough time, but we’re all in this together.
The greatest effect COVID-19 has had on my business: I could talk about our lost revenue, but everyone in business is feeling that to some degree. … But, thanks to the shutdown, we were able to dedicate time to creating an improved online experience for our customers, and I’m thankful for the time we had to pivot our business in that way. We continue to work on getting new items up and running on our site each day.
How I will use the Recovery & Sustainability Fund grant award: The awarded funds will be put toward our employees’ wages and give us needed stability in the months moving forward. We will also be using those funds to further solidify our online presence in the event we must shut down again, or for the customers who do not feel comfortable shopping yet.
When I look to the future: I am hopeful. Medical professionals are continually researching to learn more about the virus. I am hopeful that we as a community can do our best to prevent the spread, based on the current findings we know. We did our part in closing, and now we must listen to professionals to rebound. It feels like baby steps, but I’m reminded of my childhood when I would wear my grandma’s costume jewelry. (T)his fable’s mantra resonates with me: “Slow and steady wins the race.”