Bozeman Business Boom: How one online business used a boost from the pandemic to open a brick-and-mortar store

LeeAnn Anthony, owner of Whiskey and Lace Clothing Boutique, helps a customer during their grand opening on Aug. 8, 2020.

BOZEMAN- One industry seeing a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic are online retail stores.

According to retail data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, first quarter Ecommerce sales increased by 14.5% compared to the same time period from 2019, but the first quarter ended March 31, 2020, only a few weeks into the pandemic.

LeeAnn Anthony started Whiskey and Lace Clothing Boutique after selling her black Ford F-150 two years ago.

“I sold my truck, got some money, bought some clothes and I started out in my house,” Anthony said.

Along with selling online, Anthony also sold her clothing as a vendor at local marketplaces.

“Those vendor shows really helped us build into this spot and then online just boomed cause what were people doing during quarantine?” Anthony asked rhetorically. “They were shopping online!”

Despite the boom in business, Anthony said her profit and losses didn’t show to banks she approached with the idea of opening a brick and mortar business, so she went without financial help.

“We were willing to take that leap and know that we were going to be successful taking into consideration the location, the traffic and the time,” Anthony explained. “There’s a lot more opportunity here too for small businesses to be successful or to just get your name out there in general because it is such a small community, and word of mouth spreads really far here.”

After looking at several locations around the Bozeman area, Anthony couldn’t resist a location in downtown Bozeman.

“I’m 50-50 I would say, 50% of me says this is going to work, that this is going to be successful and I think that’s the outgoing person that I am,” Anthony said. “Then 50% of me is like why am I doing this during a pandemic, is this the worst decision that I could do?”

Most of Anthony’s worries went away once she started getting her store ready for the store’s grand opening on Aug 8, 2020.

Neighboring businesses came to welcome her, and her social media inbox flooded with support.

“Being downtown I feel like I’m part of the community down here too, I’ve already had so many people reach out to me… I know so many people down here that they were like ‘we’re so excited to have you’ and I’m just really excited to be down here,” Anthony exclaimed.

The grand opening of Whiskey and Lace at 23 West Main St. gave the first 20 customers received 20% off and the rest 10% off all day long.

 “I don’t know what’s next you know? We’re just going to take it day-by-day and take our customers day-by-day too, and just sell some really cute clothes!” Anthony said.

More information about Whiskey and Lace Clothing Boutique can be found here.

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