Local News

Downtown Raleigh business reopens, thrives during pandemic shutdown with digital sales

A downtown Raleigh business turned to online sales to keep their business alive during the pandemic. Now, it's reopening its physical location after months of being digital-only.

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Richard Adkins
, WRAL photojournalist
RALEIGH, N.C. — Like so many businesses in downtown Raleigh, the Zen Succulent had to close its doors to consider all that's going on in 2020.

On Friday, Adela Li, the lead shopkeep, welcomed customers into The Zen Succulent for the first time in months.

"It was COVID," she said. "That was originally the reason why we closed our shops."

She said they took a week or two to think about what to do next, and how they should move forward.

Then, the two-year old Raleigh location was also damaged during downtown protests.

"It's like one of those mad scrambles of like, well, now you have to reevaluate how you run everything and like how you communicate to people," she said.

The store turned to its online presence to help save the store.

At first, their e-commerce website traffic was very low.

"We had been focusing so much on the foot traffic that we were getting," said Li. But then they had to close the physical store to keep everyone safe, their social media and website traffic soared.

During a time when so many businesses were laying employees off, or even closing, Li's company was able to keep all their employees. They're even adding five more positions to help with the reopening. 

Li is eager to return to the human connection that comes with having a tangible location again. In fact, many of her newest customers are visiting because of the pandemic – and their desire to pick up a new hobby due to having so much time at home.

"I've met so many new customers who were like, 'Well, I'm just getting into this plant thing. I want to be a plant parent,'" she said.

Li said it's really great to see more people taking up slower hobbies to nourish their souls and connect with the community.

Business is once again beginning to blossom and grow.


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