Retailer gets FaceTime with customers

Pacific Treasures adopts several new practices including virtual personal shopping using the FaceTime app

VISALIA – Since in-person shopping has been strongly discouraged over the last few months, businesses were forced to find new ways to service their customers. Pacific Treasures relied on FaceTime shopping, curbside pickups, and shipping services to maintain their operations.

Pacific Treasures is a specialized gifts and lifestyles store in Visalia. They were able to reopen on May 7 but accepted orders by appointment only. They also resorted to curbside pickups and offered shipping services including free delivery in Visalia. To accommodate customers who wanted an in-person shopping experience while sheltering-in-place at home, Pacific Treasures began taking people on virtual shopping trips. They call people using FaceTime, which is a video calling software on iPhones, and a worker will take the customer around the store while discussing what they want.

“We’ve had to be very creative and accommodating to people’s needs. We’re very happy to do whatever it is that [customers] would like us to do,” Pacific Treasures owner Michelle Wiebe said.

The shop also increased their social media usage to better serve customers remotely. They post pictures of their products on Facebook and Instagram, then customers would call in to inquire and possibly purchase a certain product they saw.

“I’m posting everyday now, it really brought a lot of people in and it worked to our advantage,” Wiebe said. “We did so many beautiful Easter baskets and shipped them all over the United States.”

Pacific Treasures was able to stay open because they also sell food. A few of the items they offer are handmade Italian pasta and pasta sauces, gourmet oils, vinegar, and culinary sauces, plus chocolate and other kinds of candy. Their food sales ramped-up because they had items that grocery stores were running out of. As a result, they increased their food inventory.

“I had a lot of suppliers that could ship right away. I’ve never sold so much pasta in my life,” Wiebe said.

Downtown Visalia has been home to Pacific Treasures for 29 years. They are very active in community as they’re big supporters of the local schools, organizations and fundraisers. According to Wiebe, the last few months have demonstrated the resilience of the Visalia community and the surrounding areas.

“I’m thankful that we could work through everything and people were very understanding of our ability to navigate the situations,” she said. “One takeaway I’m seeing is people are realizing the importance of shopping local. If you shop at a local store, your money stays here in the community.”

As shelter-in-place orders are lifted and businesses begin reopening around the country, Pacific Treasures will continue some of their new practices they’ve implemented. FaceTime shopping is here to stay along with curbside pick-ups and shipping services.

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