The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities.
Main Street Kirksville is home to the Moonshine and Lace Boutique owned by sisters Laura Harvey and Michele Thurlo. These sisters took a risk in becoming entrepreneurs in 2017 by starting the Moonshine and Lace Boutique as a mobile boutique traveling to fairs, festivals, and events. They primarily utilized Facebook for their advertising and developed a good following. At the urging of their customers, they opened a storefront in downtown Kirksville in October 2019. Following the opening of their brick and mortar location, they were excited about the traffic and sales they were generating. Laura and Michele were looking forward to the 2020 spring and summer season on the downtown square with the desire to participate in the many neighborhood events, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.
As a result of the pandemic, they had to temporarily close their newly-opened storefront in March of 2020 even after using safe precautions and implementing regulations. With their storefront closed, they relied on their website and Facebook page for continued sales. Customers that made purchase online and on Facebook were offered porch pickup. However, their sales were low as they felt the impact of the difficulty of receiving inventory, supply chain issues, and inability to work directly with models and customers.
Months after closing in June of 2020, Moonshine and Lace Boutique was able to reopen, but the entire Kirksville downtown area struggled with low traffic. Laura and Michele worked with other downtown businesses to create some small events to help increase traffic, but they knew they needed more. They applied for the Downtown Strong Grant to help them increase their online sales and expand their business promotions.
Moonshine and Lace Boutique was awarded the Downtown Strong Grant and worked with Dana Thomas from BOLD Marketing, who reviewed their existing ecommerce website platform. As a result, BOLD did extensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work and training. BOLD updated and provided support for the boutique’s Google My Business profile, connected accounts to Google Shop and Facebook, and developed and launched a 2-month Google search ad campaign that helped identify best practices for their audience’s shopping habits.
To enhance their business promotion, BOLD provided Facebook support and ad designs, reviewed Moonshine and Lace’s email platform, and designed email assets to use for customer engagement. They reviewed their existing referral program and made recommendations for an improved platform. In addition, Dana helped them develop ways for getting their message out on a local level and ideas for downtown events where they could partner with other businesses on the downtown square.
Laura and Michele are grateful for the Downtown Strong Grant opportunity and commented
that they felt that learning about SEO has been huge for them. They said, “They started with no knowledge of it at all and now have direction.” The energetic and willing-to-implement attitude of the owners combined with BOLD Marketing’s expertise and support has given Moonshine and Lace Boutique the tools they needed to help navigate the challenges of opening a storefront just prior to the pandemic.
The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.