Downtown Dover boutique continues to grow amid pandemic
Small business owner James Owens said the local shops and boutiques are doing everything they can to make customers feel safe this holiday season.
“Don’t be scared to come to Loockerman [Street] because businesses on Loockerman are doing the same things that they’re doing in the mall,” he said, referring to COVID-19 precautions like offering hand sanitizer, requiring masks and cleaning frequently.
“We’re doing anything that the big businesses are doing, but without the crowd,” he said.
Owens recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his shop That Ish Boutique, which sits at the corner of West Loockerman and New streets and features urban clothing and Islamic garb.
While the pandemic has hit him with unexpected expenses — like hiring an agency to spray clean the store or installing screen doors to increase airflow — Owens said it initially brought him some new customers.
“It hurts because people don’t really come out, but it actually did good for me during the time when the mall was closed because people had to come here,” he said.
Since That Ish Boutique offers a wide range of Islamic clothing and products, Owens said that the niche market has drawn in customers from as far as Salisbury, Maryland.
“Those have been really keeping me above,” he said.
This Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, That Ish Boutique will open at 11 a.m. and offer 10% off everything.
In the meantime, Owens is keeping his eye on the future. He just recently started a scented lotion line and plans to offer scented shea butter soon.
His next goal is to secure a $10,000 loan to buy a direct-to-garment printer, which will help him create customizable T-shirts and develop new clothing lines for men and women. He said he is also looking into featuring more Black designers.
But, his ambition doesn’t stop there.
“I’m looking to be in business for a long time and eventually buy a building on Loockerman. That’s my end goal to own a building,” he said.
He encouraged shoppers to come downtown and enjoy the small businesses, including the restaurants, boutiques and more.