inResponse - Christine Gaspard

"inResponse" is a program in partnership with What I Wish I Knew to explore how people, business owners and our communities have been impacted and how they’re handling COVID-19. We’ll interview local leaders and businesses to gain insight into how they cope with challenges like the current pandemic. 

We’re on the hunt for answers, information, and solutions and will look to share these so each of us can turn this challenge into an opportunity.

For this inResponse, Jodi Goebel chats with Christine Gaspard, owner of Lil’ Rascalz Shop, a clothing and gift shop for kids. Many different sectors of industry have been impacted by COVID and the safety measures imposed by local health organizations. The retail industry has been hit particularly hard by these measures. Forced closures, distancing, and other health rules have made business very tough. For Lil’Rascalz, the shutdown was hard, but Christine acted quickly, upgrading her online site and offering curbside pickup to keep sales going. Christine is a people person and that loss of in-person communication was challenging as she has crafted a fun, genuine, and exciting experience in-store. However, she quickly adapted to increasing the Lil’ Rascalz social media presence as well as personalized notes and phone calls to keep the experience exceptional. We asked Christine some questions about her business, how COVID has affected the store, how the Black Lives Matter Movement has impacted sales and culture, and where she sees the future of Lil’ Rascalz Shop. Check it out:

JG - What would you say Lil’ Rascalz Stands for as a brand?

CG - Fun. I wanted Lil’ Rascalz to be a safe space for kids and parents. We have (pre-COVID) activities for parents and kids to get involved in when they shop. I didn’t just want a clothing shop, I wanted a place where the community could come together.

JG - What has been your experience of shifting Lil’ Rascalz online?

CG - Because I am a people person it’s been hard for me being online. The challenge is trying to add your personal touch to everything online and keeping your options open as much as possible.

JG - What is a day like for you running a retail store during COVID

CG - I have really learned to not plan your day. We are semi-open and on a reduced hour schedule. At first, we thought, “OK when we open it won’t be that busy” and we were wrong. People wanted to get out of the house and back into the stores. It’s been crazy but I am learning to not plan anything too much and take it a day at a time.

JG - How has the surge and support for Black-owned business impacted you and your business?

CG - For myself personally, it’s pushed me to be a little bit more vocal in front of people. I think people have supported and are making an effort to support Black-owned businesses, but what scares me is that this is a surge and it becomes an afterthought. I am hoping that with everybody opening their eyes to this, is that they stay open.

JG - What do you hope the post-COVID phase for Lil’Rascalz looks like?

CG - I am just genuinely excited to see people in the store again. As things ease up, I am excited for community events and to share as a community. Social media is awesome, but nothing can beat personal connection.

Follow along with Lil’ Rascalz and Christine’s Journey to connect to the community further through new programs and events as they’re empowered by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Lil’ Rascalz is not only an awesome clothing shop for kids, but it’s a place where the community can gather and learn about Black culture.

@lilrascalzshop - Instagram
Lil'Rascalz Shop - Facebook

Check out the full virtual interview below: