by Terry Rogers
The COVID-19 Ingenuity series is to highlight non-essential businesses in Milford who are using unique methods to continue operating during the State of Emergency Closure. If your business has found unique ways to adapt during the closure, please reach out to us so that we can highlight your efforts.
Brandon and Katie Coenen began their business venture as a brick-and-mortar version of their successful online sales business. The couple, who say they enabled each other over the years with their obsession for collectible toys, opened Red Bandana in 2017 in Milford. Since their opening, they have moved twice, both times to larger locations to accommodate a growing business.
“On March 23, Governor Carney closed us down as we were a non-essential business,” Katie explained. “At first, we did curbside pickup where people could call us and we would meet them at their car with their item. Then, the governor told us we could not do that any longer, so we had to improvise.”
At first, the couple reverted back to their original business model, selling on eBay, Facebook, Instagram and other online auction sites. Although they were still successful, they knew that it was not enough and they missed talking to their regular customers.
“We started talking about it and we came up with the idea of appointments,” Katie said. “People can call to make an appointment which we limit to no more than one or two people. We wipe down the entire store before they come in and as soon as they leave. This has been a life-saver for us and it has been extremely popular. Not only have we had support from the Milford community, which has always been outstanding, we have also had people from the entire state of Delaware reach out to us.”
The store also offers Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh as well as Dungeons and Dragons competitions. Although they know they cannot hold tournaments at this time since those require 20 to 30 people in one room, they are considering adding virtual competitions to provide the customers who like to participate the ability to do so.
“We have regular customers who are both healthcare providers,” Katie said. “Our products provide them with a way to relax and unwind. It helps kids and adults deal with cabin fever. We are also offering delivery services which have been very popular. It is perfect for those who are self-quarantining. They simply call in and order what they want. We have expanded payment options, now taking Venmo, Paypal, credit and debit cards to avoid cash transactions. We then take the item to the home and leave it on the front step, just letting them know it is there. I conducted on entire transaction through a Ring doorbell. I guess we could call this NerdDash rather than DoorDash.”
Katie explained that they are trying to offer online options for parents to keep busy. She pointed out that even if a child does not read comic books, there are other things that can be done with them. She created a Modpodge video showing how comic books can be used as art.
“We love Milford,” Katie said. “I have said since we opened the store that they will have to drag us out of here kicking and screaming. We are simply not going to let a virus keep us from doing what we love. We cannot say enough about the love we have gotten from the Milford community and beyond.”
Anyone interested in items offered at Red Bandana, whether to make an appointment or arrange for delivery, can call 302-362-5743.