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Cassie Rowe shows off a ready-made gift basket from her store, Abingdon Gifting Co., in Abingdon, Virginia © Cassie Rowe

Cassie Rowe’s big break from the pandemic came in late 2020 when she noticed a local insurance agency trying to sell some of her office furniture.

Rowe wondered if the chairs and tables on offer were a sign that the agency was moving, and if this could be an opportunity to move their gift shop to a more visible location in the town of Abingdon, in the south. -Western Virginia.

While walking down Main Street on a Saturday in November to deliver a gift basket, she saw a sign in the window. Part of the lease was up for grabs: the agency did not need as much space because its employees had switched to telecommuting. Rowe stepped in, signed the lease, and in early December moved Abingdon Gifting Co.

The decision turned out to be accidental. December sales accounted for a third of the catch for 2020, which in turn was the highest-grossing year since the business started in 2018, Rowe said.

From his new location, Rowe is in a better position to pick up the tourism business, which is starting to rebound.

His business of selling gift baskets, even from its former less spacious location on the corner of a mall a mile away, had proven resilient despite state restrictions on gatherings such as weddings or parties. birthdays.

“We have done well because of the pandemic,” she said. “People still want to hook up even though they can’t reach out and kiss someone.”

Another pandemic trend that Rowe found herself caught in was a housing market that was “on fire” as Americans left major cities in search of more space. It was not uncommon to receive “25 or 30 orders at a time” from a realtor sending gifts to clients, a trend Rowe says she hopes to continue this year.

However, not everything has worked in Rowe’s favor in the pandemic. “My mother had [Covid-19] and suffers from the long-term effects, ”she said.

Rowe expects the mask rules to be a source of consternation. As out-of-state tourists return, she and neighboring retailers are unsure whether they are likely to lose or gain business by joining.

She says some potential buyers walked out almost immediately when they saw people inside wearing masks. Other retailers nearby told him that customers decided to enter their stores because they looked out the window, saw staff wearing face coverings incorrectly or not at all, and interpreted this as a sign that they wouldn’t require buyers to hide.

This is the eighth post in a series for the blog that explores the effects of the pandemic on people and businesses around the world.

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