Ellicottville businesses keep customers coming back with creativity

A number of Ellicottville businesses have been getting creative to safely serve their customers during this time of the pandemic. Cupcaked on Monroe Street is open but with limited hours, currently offering curbside pick up and walk-in orders.

ELLICOTTVILLE — Challenges brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic have forced most businesses to “think outside the box” to come up with creative ways to keep their customers coming back.

In the face of ongoing restrictions, three Ellicottville businesses shared some of their strategies.

—John Rounds, owner of Adventure Bound and Ellicottville Coffee Company, said they have adjusted their product mix and have offered curbside pick up throughout the entire period.

His outdoor retail store at 16 Washington St. offers curbside coffees and hand sanitizer from Steelbound Brewery and Distillery. He said they have also assisted customers with outdoor gear purchases by appointment where social distancing could be adhered to.

“The coffee division of our business has been a very important part of how we have been able to survive the crisis,” he said. “Our key relationships in Peru and other parts of Latin America have been very important throughout the crisis.”

Their new Nitro Cold Brew has been a huge part of the store’s summer offering. Rounds said the cold brew is non-alcoholic and takes about 18 hours to make. He said customers typically describe it as less acidic and smoother. It can be enjoyed in the café and shop, or “to go.”

“Nitrogen is mixed with coffee and creates a cold, delicious drink,” he said. “We also offer a Cold Brew Nitro shake where we add handmade Peruvian chocolate syrup and a little cream, which has been very popular.”

Rounds said they will soon be adding café craft beer, specialty wines, and coffee drinks to their menu. They will also be offering “beer to go” in both growlers, cans and bottles.

People still have the option to order merchandise from the store online at ellicottvillecoffee.com. Rounds said their guide business started back up in June, as did their stand up paddle board rentals. For more information, visit adventureboundonthefly.com.

—Jessica Maynard-Gilbert said Ava Grace Fashions, her women’s clothing and accessory boutique, is holding strong.

Long before the pandemic began, Gilbert has stayed connected to her customers through social media. For those who prefer to shop from home or just need some style tips, she offers FaceTime, Zoom and two to three Facebook Live video chats a week featuring items from the store.

According to Gilbert, one of the biggest hesitations people have about buying clothing is they have no idea what the fabric feels like and sometimes it’s hard to understand how things are going to fit. She said the customers love it when her staff models the clothing for them.

“I’m not a teeny, tiny model; I’m about a 14-16 and I usually wear an extra large. I have employees of different sizes who try on other sizes as well,” she said. “The reaction from our customers is amazing. I’ve had a lot of people thank me for trying things on, so they can see the amount of stretch and the length. They ask questions and it makes online shopping for clothing a little easier.”

Gilbert also offers private sessions or small group sessions similar to a Tupperware party where a customer hosts a party and gets store credit toward their purchase, based on what their attendees purchase.

Ava Grace Fashions is currently open to the public on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Find out more by emailing Gilbert at jess@avagracefashions.com or visit avagracefashions.com.

—Anne Coe said her business, Cupcaked Bakery and Event Planning located at 22 Monroe St., is open but with limited hours. She said they are currently offering curbside pick up and walk-in orders on Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

“We closed our doors for about a month-and-a-half while only doing special orders. Then we started doing just curbside pickup and now we're back to having walk-in traffic,” she said.

Because of the pandemic restrictions, Coe said she had to fully remodel her business space to ensure that a limited number of customers come into the bakery. She said, based on the square footage, they can have only two customers at a time.

Outside tables are not an option, according to Coe, because they don’t have the manpower to ensure great customer service in-store and be able to watch the tables outside to make sure they get disinfected every time someone touches them.

Coe said her future plans for expansion are up in the air at this point, but she has some great leads.

“I would absolutely love to have a storefront in my hometown (Salamanca), so we will see what comes to be,” she said.

Customers may place their orders online at cupcakedevl.com and it will be ready in 15 minutes, or they can schedule it for later in the day. Cupcaked has Nationwide shipping. Orders are shipped out Tuesday of the following week.