How The Carson House Navigated the Pandemic

"Pivot we did…and as a result, when we did re-open, the accolades came." Michelle McElhinney, Owner, The Carson House

The Carson House is Kingston’s only upscale consignment furniture and home decor store. When can expect an eclectic mix of well-crafted furniture staged beautifully in our 5000 sq. ft. showroom. The vibe is relaxed, the treasures are unique, and the experience is like no other.

Then came COVID-19...and life changed dramatically. In addition to the normal growing pains experienced as a new business, our viability was certainly threatened by the challenges brought forth by the pandemic: closures, public health protocols, customer & staff anxiety. Our team needed to remain positive, nimble, courageous, and creative! Simply put, we needed to remain relatable and engaged with our shoppers. We ramped up our regular social media posts (FB & Instagram), with features like ‘Beyond the Window’ video segments, which we still use today. These are walking tours of the store highlighting furniture vignettes, pricing & dimensions – essentially bringing the store to them.

Staff offered free ‘contactless’ delivery to close the deal. We leveraged FB Live; weekly online sales events we called ‘Couchella’. Followers joined us from the comfort of their couches, to shop with us. We really had fun with it.

Pivot we did…and as a result, when we did re-open, the accolades came. Customers sharing ‘you were one of the only stores that kept me engaged’, ‘I looked forward to your videos and posts everyday…it gave me my shopping fix’.

The pandemic also opened new growth opportunities. The stay-at-home orders had created a huge DIY trend…people were dipping their toe into home projects, painting, redecorating, & renovating. In addition to leveraging this trend in our promotional posts, we expanded our product offering to include Fusion Mineral Paint – Canadian made, easy to use, low VOC’s. We were approved as a retailer, and in under a month, the entire lineup

(over 50 SKU’s) was online and ready for purchase. This continues to be one of the best decisions we have made. A perfect complement to our furniture and home décor


Like many retailers, we did not accomplish all of this alone. Our customers were so supportive, cheerleading virtually with kind and thoughtful messages. Groups like The Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Women Mean Business Network, and Canadian Federation of Independent Business, kept us positive and ‘in the know’ with messages of encouragement and updates on public health restrictions impacting regular business. Our moving partner, Allan’s Movers provided exceptional customer service, and remained patient and flexible as we delivered to our ‘online shoppers’ under new restrictions.

Unprecedented times indeed...but we are all stronger and more resilient as a result.

In the words of Caryn Sullivan...‘In the face of adversity, we have a choice. We can be bitter, or we can be better.
These words are my North Star. We chose to be better

Michelle McElhinney, Owner, The Carson House

Learn More About The Carson House - WEBSITE

Michelle McElhinney

About the Author

Owner, The Carson House

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