On Reopening: An interview with Provisions St. Louis’ Debra & Ross Hunter

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  Wolfum Studio Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

Last week I stopped in to visit Provisions St. Louis‘ Debra and Ross Hunter to find out what the reaction has been to their reopening earlier this summer. The Hunters moved from Sonoma CA to the CWE and opened the shop at 228 N. Euclid in the fall of 2018.  I was also following up on a “q & a” I sent to learn more about what they were up to during the shut down (see below).

Debra reported that after being sequestered for so long customers said they were delighted to be doing something that felt familiar and normal, in fact “I would say they seem absolutely cheerful,” she continued—which is exactly how I have always felt when visiting the shop.Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  Wolfum Studio Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter  Following are a couple of items that caught my eye the other day:

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  Wolfum Studio Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

This might be the time to add backgammon to your repertoire as you spend more time at home, especially one as handsome as the handmade sets in Baltic birch created by Wolfum Studio above, $125 to $250. The L. A. based design studio also makes striking wooden trays in bold, contemporary patterns that Debra said have been popular gift items since the shop first opened.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  Wolfum Studio Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter  A Brooklyn-based company adds leather straps and other finishes to great-looking market bags, $48 and $68. It was good to learn that these bags provide a source of income to the women in India who weave them.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  Wolfum Studio Provisions St. Louis Debra and Ross Hunter

The q & a follows:
1. What date did you close the shop due to the stay-at-home orders?
We closed the store on March 16th and reopened around Memorial Day.
2. Retail is tough enough, but then to lose the momentum you had created since opening in the fall of 2018 must have been a terrific challenge. How did you both survive that?
We had been mentally preparing for a couple of weeks and felt the most important aspect would be to stay positive and pass on that positivity through our social media.
And as luck would have it, we had been watching the trajectory of the virus and its ramifications since January, so we began to dial back our spring orders. Many, many businesses order months in advance, we prefer to be more flexible —offering a curated selection that is of the moment and relative to our customers.
3. Were you doing business online?  
We were not, but with the closure, we were able to take the time to develop an e-commerce website. We are truly a brick and mortar Main Street store where the sharing of conversations and experiences is the core of our business. However, it was always a goal to have a website where people could familiarize themselves with what we carry, who we are, and what we’re about.
4. How did you spend your time while you were home? I ran into Ross at Straub’s at least once, so I gather you both like to cook. Was there something you tackled during that time that you had been putting off? 
Well, the website development was omnipresent but we did ALOT of cooking—but in all fairness, we’re always doing a lot of cooking—everything from fresh falafel & pita bread to carnitas & homemade tortillas.
5. And finally, do you have any second thoughts about moving to St. Louis from wine country and opening a business here with all the challenges we face?
Not at all! There are challenges everywhere; we feel very at home here and love being a part of the St Louis and CWE community.
Speaking for many who have discovered Provisions St. Louis…we’re so glad they have put down roots here too.
Provisions St. Louis, 228 N. Euclid, Tues. through Sat. 11 to 6ish, Sun. Noon to 5ish.

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