How Melbourne clothing brand Elk is adapting to outdoor trading

Elk founder Marnie Goding on what it takes to run your own business. Image: Supplied

Melbourne clothing and accessories brand Elk is embracing ‘outdoor’ trading on the city’s first day out of lockdown by setting up clothing racks and marquees outside two of its stores, which it says will remain in place, come hail or shine.

While many restrictions in Victoria eased overnight, under the state’s reopening roadmap, general retailers in Melbourne are only permitted to open for outdoor trading until the state reaches the next milestone of 80% of residents being vaccinated.

Elk chief operating officer Amanda McCabe-Phillips says excited shoppers arrived early this morning at the brand’s Preston store in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, which now has a six metre by three metre pergola bolted down in the carpark outside the store.

The enclosure is filled with Elk’s new season clothes and accessories, and team members have mobile eftpos machines ready to process payments.

Meanwhile in Albert Park in Melbourne’s south, the Elk team have utilised the store’s verandah space to display items and serve customers.

“The pandemic has taught us to be more innovative than we ever thought possible,” McCabe-Phillips tells SmartCompany from Elk’s Preston head office. 

While Elk’s two other retail outlets are not suited to outdoor retail and so will remain closed for the time being, McCabe-Phillips says Elk’s retail team members are “super excited” to be back doing what they love and that the business’ retail outlets can trade again, even with modifications. 

“The one thing that is really important for our retail team is that they love retail; they are big-hearted people and they love that connection,” she says. 

McCabe-Phillips says the concerns around health and safety that may have existed when Melbourne emerged from lockdown last year are no longer as much of a worry, and the only “tricky” part may be ensuring all customers are fully vaccinated.

That aside, she says there is an “overwhelming sense of relief” among staff and customers. 

Elk expects to have its temporary outdoor trading arrangements at least for the next week and a half and is committed to staying open. 

“Now we’re open, we’re not closing again,” says McCabe-Phillips. 

“Even if it hails, we’ll be out there.”

This story originally appeared on SmartCompany and has been republished with permission.

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