Small Pennsylvania Division Retailer Is aware of Its Clients and Beats All The Odds
Each city had a enterprise like Dunham’s. These family-run department shops had been a staple within the nation’s downtown areas. However as competitors intensified and homeowners aged, many of those native companies offered off their stock and closed their doorways. Nevertheless, this isn’t the case in Wellsboro, Pa., The place the Dunham division retailer has crushed the percentages and served prospects for 116 years.
Wellsboro, situated in north-central Pennsylvania simply south of the New York state border, has a inhabitants of roughly 3,200. The group, recognized for its Pine Creek George, the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” is house to longtime residents and transplant recipients who want to flee metropolis and suburban life.
Wellsboro’s downtown buying district is harking back to a quaint New England city. It is an idyllic location for one in all America’s final unbiased department shops.
Dunham’s, based in 1905, continues to be operated by the Dunham household. The over 35,000 sq. foot division retailer, situated down the Principal Avenue hall of Wellsboro, is the group’s go-to supply for clothes, cosmetics and housewares. His in-store espresso can be the one place on the town to brew Starbucks.
The household additionally operates a house enchancment heart and a furnishings and mattress retailer situated behind the principle division retailer constructing.
Dunham’s fought valiantly in opposition to the challenges of Covid, nevertheless it hasn’t essentially been a simple combat. Restrictions compelled the division retailer to shut for 2 months. When the doorways reopened, the shop labored arduous to take care of correct stock ranges as provide chains had been severely disrupted.
Deemed to be an ‘important enterprise’, the Dunham house enchancment heart has been allowed to stay open through the Covid shutdown interval. Clients had been in a position to place orders for merchandise on the house heart whereas staff retrieved merchandise from the closed division retailer.
Covid additionally compelled Dunham’s to cancel its two greatest promotions. The shop was unable to carry its semi-annual “1/2 of 1/2” gross sales occasions. The favored occasion often has traces of consumers, however Covid has restricted any sort of public congregation. The shop additionally lacked the suitable quantity of final season’s clearance merchandise wanted to inventory the sale and fulfill keen customers.
Wellsboro additionally needed to cancel its annual Dickensian Christmas celebration. Dunham’s historically does one month’s gross sales in someday. Nevertheless, the occasion’s cancellation didn’t devastate Dunham’s. Happily, the shop reported a great vacation season.
Dunham skilled a critical household downside simply earlier than the Covid shutdown. John Dunham, the patriarch of the household, suffered a minor stroke within the retailer cafe. The incident eliminated Dunham from the day-to-day operations of the shop as different members of the Dunham household stepped ahead and assumed managerial positions. This allowed the enterprise to proceed and Dunham to recuperate with none worries. John and his spouse Nancy all the time stay concerned in discussions and choices that have an effect on retailer operations.
Fourth technology member of the family Ann Dunham Rawson presently runs the division retailer. Her husband, Joe, takes care of the ironmongery store. Ann thanks her husband, a former Air Pressure aviator, for doing a great job underneath stress. An indispensable trait throughout an uncommon interval.
Rawson is properly skilled within the retail trade. After graduating from Mansfield College, Rawson labored for Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor at their shops within the Raleigh, North Carolina space. She noticed each retailers make vital errors when out-of-town customers misjudged Raleigh’s wayward climate modifications.
Rawson believes that the merger of the Federated and Might Firm shops within the mid-2000s led to the demise of the standard division retailer. “Homogenization was the start of the tip for department shops,” says Rawson. “As quickly as Macy’s
Dunham’s doesn’t carry many of the excessive style traces present in excessive finish retailers or small specialty outlets. Dunham’s provides the native market. “I can not fill 37,000 sq. toes of retail house with boutiques and be worthwhile,” says Rawson.
Its conventional clientele prefers manufacturers corresponding to Columbia, Alfred Dunner, Estee Lauder and Levis. A lot of its prospects is not going to or will be unable to buy on the Web. They like to see and odor the products.
Covid has impacted the stock provide chains of most retailers and Dunham was no exception. Rawson labored arduous to maintain the cabinets and cabinets within the retailer properly stocked. Along with Covid’s provide problems, many suppliers have eradicated touring representatives. Small retailers relied on these visits to see the newest tendencies and place orders.
Stock shortages compelled Dunham’s to shut its house division within the basement and consolidate this merchandise on the bottom flooring. Dunham’s already eradicated its junior division in 2015.
Rawson steadily hears prospects say they would not know what they might do with out Dunham’s. “Our success relies on the shopper and the group. We’d like consumers who wish to purchase merchandise, not simply use our providers. “
Wellsboro’s thriving tourism trade has definitely helped Dunham’s. Rawson says 60% of its prospects, on the peak of the gross sales season, are guests. The division retailer is an attraction in itself. Vacationers enter by means of the gates and step again in time. They keep in mind the previous household shops that performed an necessary position in their very own previous. These recollections typically end in purchases.
Dunham’s has been a part of Wellsboro since 1905, when Roy and Fannie Dunham got here to city and opened a grocery retailer. Over the next a long time, the Dunham household expanded their providing and even operated a ‘rolling retailer’ that introduced groceries and dry items, by truck, to farmers and households unable to make it to city.
The corporate didn’t open division retailer operations till 1932, on the peak of the Despair. Critics deemed it a dangerous and silly enterprise, however the Dunham household noticed it as an funding locally. 9 a long time later, these opponents have been confirmed flawed.
Whereas it’s hoped that Covid infections will lower and vaccinations improve, Rawson encourages guests to return to Wellsboro and take a look at one in all America’s final unbiased department shops. “It is a enjoyable place to buy and we provide old school service with a smile. It is like coming house.
Dunham’s is well-known for the slogan “There’s extra in retailer at Dunham’s.” However when the corporate hit its centenary in 2005, a advertising and marketing consultancy insisted on “updating” the saying “There’s one thing about Dunham”.
To say that “there’s something about Dunham” might indicate that there’s something flawed with Dunham. There may be clearly nothing flawed with Dunham. It’s nonetheless a thriving enterprise and social vacation spot inside the group that it loyally serves.
The shop has since reverted to its unique foreign money. Dunham’s succeeded when so many different historic names disappeared.