Just a few weeks before One Paseo was set to celebrate its one-year anniversary since opening to the public, the first coronavirus death in the U.S. – a man in Washington state – was reported. Days later, the urban village with 44 tenants and just under 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on 23 acres, had to begin the process of a temporary closure due to a mandated lockdown.
Now, One Paseo has shifted its focus to virtual offerings and to-go and pick-up options from 12 food and beverage places on the premise that have opted to remain open, according to Brian Lewis, senior vice president of marketing brand and retail development of Kilroy Realty Corp., developers of One Paseo. Originally projected to generate millions in economic impact and with a once reported 800 employees total, the immediate goal, he said, is to offer San Diegans at-home self-care services, wellness offerings and healthy food choices to help them get through the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on One Paseo, as every retailer can attest to,” he said. “I think our boutique fitness partners, like VibeFlow Yoga and Soul Cycle, have done a wonderful job of reinventing themselves and providing an online platforms. Being at home, we still need to get some exercise and have some positivity in life and those groups in particular have done an outstanding job to stay connected to the community.”
Taking into consideration many of its members don’t own cycling bikes, Soul Cycle, for example, has created a “Off the Bike” schedule that includes online classes with some of the location’s instructors, he said. That is comprised of two to five classes a day that take place from 9am to 9pm like high intensity interval training, abs, body weight cardio and a guided run hour, according to the company. The trainers are remaining active on social media to keep clients informed, said Lewis.
Whole Body Vibration
Similarly, keeping in mind that most people don’t keep vibration plates at home, VibeFlow Yoga, which combines yoga with whole body vibration to tone the muscles, is offering free plate-less classes three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., according to Lewis. These are being held on Instagram Live and Facebook Live as well as its YouTube channel, said founder and CEO of VibeFlow Yoga, Billy Borja, who added that the virtual classes average about 20-25 people each.
“Our company was greatly affected,” said Borja, who launched VibeFlow in 2018. “As a service-based business, due to the COVID-19 virus, we were forced to temporarily shut down our operations and place our employees on temporary layoff. We had to layoff 90% of our employees and freeze 100% of our memberships.”
Yet, Borja said the company is staying active on all social media outlets and is sending out newsletter and e-blasts to keep its followers engaged and informed.
Lewis, the senior vice president of marketing brand and retail development at One Paseo, said, much like Borja and VibeFlow Yoga, many of the tenants that had omni channel existences were forced to build on their online presence as a result of the novel coronavirus crisis.
“The creative aspect of our retailers is coming to the forefront,” he said. “A lot of people, even boutique shops that may not have online presence, now have to focus on online sales and really cater to that community… without the technical aspect, a lot of people are going back to simplicity and basics. I see more kids riding bikes than I have in the last 10 years. More people walking and skateboarding, enjoying the outdoors and spending quality time with the family, having game nights and playing cards. Whatever it is to pass the time and have positivity in life is super important during these trying times. That is where retailers come into play. It is a very bright spot in people’s lives, something that will add happiness whether that is through a new pair of shoes or an amazing pizza.”
Leah Kirpalani, founder and president of Shop Good, a beauty and wellness shop headquartered in North Park with a store at One Paseo, said she was fortunate enough to already have a web presence since 2016, a year before opening her first store. After realizing she’d have to close her shops because of COVID-19, Kirpalani said she was able to quickly transition to its online efforts, which represented only 5% to 7% of its total revenue in 2019.
“Since closing our physical locations, we have been able to sell our entire assortment of clean beauty, skincare and wellness products online,” said Kirpalani. “In efforts to support our online sales, we have implemented a live chat experience with our product experts, helping customers select products best for their bio-individual skincare and wellness needs. We have also kept our holistic estheticians employed by implementing free one-on-one virtual skin consultations via zoom, bookable Monday through Friday on our online platform to discuss any skin-related concerns they may be experiencing during their time in isolation.”
Supporting and Engaging
Shop Good is also placing heavy focus on supporting and engaging its 35,000 followers on Instagram, said Kirpalani, offering weekly live conversations with some of its beauty brand founders and industry leaders, at-home skincare tutorials and encouraging ways to stay interactive, positive and intentional during these times of uncertainty, she said.
Although she has kept her 12 team members employed, Kirpalani said she has reduced their hours and reassigned some of their responsibilities to support the virtual business. She also said, while sales were down nearly 60% in the weeks following the closure, which makes it difficult to pay rents, payroll and other fixed monthly expenses, the virtual business is helping Shop Good stay relevant and afloat.