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Reopening: Retail under quarantine, Drizzle and Shine welcomes Capitol Hill shoppers with comfort

(Image: Drizzle and Shine)

Capitol Hill’s “eco-first” fashion boutique Drizzle and Shine temporarily closed at the end of March in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 response plan. Now the shop has reopened, but with a few changes: contactless payment, limited store occupancy and a 24-hour quarantine of clothing items tried on but not purchased.

Capitol Hill retail shops like Drizzle and Shine began reopening their brick and mortar stores once Phase 1.5 was approved at the beginning of June. Now in Phase 2 of reopening, they can offer in-store retail with maximum 30% customer occupancy.

Drizzle and Shine owner Jean Coburn said adaptability has proven essential to the shop’s continued business over the past few months, as sales transitioned from mostly in-store to entirely online to now a mixture of both.


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“Clothes shopping can seem like retail therapy in a way, but it can also be the last thing you’d add back in when you need to buy something — you’re going to buy toilet paper or hand sanitizer or other things,” she said.

Coburn is keeping in-store customer occupancy at around 15% for now and said the store has transitioned more toward selling hoodies and other comfortable clothing instead of jeans and dresses in response to customer demand.

“They’re not buying things to go out on a date. Like I think we sold one purse in three months, and we usually sell one a day, because people aren’t going anywhere,” Coburn said.

In fact, Coburn said face masks have become one of the most purchased items in recent months.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be in the business of just selling face masks but that’s a lot of what we sell all day — a lot of our suppliers pivoted so they could keep making money and they are making masks now in addition to the clothes they sell,” she said.

Drizzle and Shine has been open for four years now and CHS reported here on the store’s mission of selling eco-conscious, vegan clothing and other fashion pieces when it first opened in 2016.

Coburn noticed sales began declining March of this year as COVID-19 concerns arose, and the store turned entirely online at the end of the March. Once state guidelines allowed in May, Drizzle and Shine began curbside pickup and offering ‘grab-and-go’ items like hand sanitizer, vegan chocolate and more.

“It’s been very difficult — we had a 70% drop in sales in April. May was a bit better, June is slightly better, but we’re still at about half of what we should be selling,” she said. “So it makes it tricky to operate a full store and run full payroll.”

Seattle is now attempting to help retail businesses reopen by offering free temporary outdoor merchandise displays, and in April the city selected certain businesses for grants as part of the Small Business Stabilization Fund but Coburn said Drizzle and Shine was not chosen in the lottery.

Looking ahead to the store’s fall stock, Coburn is looking to order fashion well-suited for online purchases — sorry, denim lovers — in the case of a potential future lockdown.

“I’m really trying to sort of future proof and make it so that we could sell things online,” she said.

Drizzle and Shine is located at 102 15th Ave E and more information on store hours can be found at drizzleandshine.com.


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