Local small business handles new COVID-19 relief

Fashion Oaks adapts to changes in county-wide COVID-19 mandates

In response to the Ventura County COVID-19 mask mandates policy being lifted on June 15, local boutique, Fashion Oaks, picked up business. Although the pandemic has struck many small businesses in a negative way in the past year and a half, Fashion Oaks stayed afloat. 

“Well, my business is actually going well, I have really good quality clientele, very loyal and I’ve been here for 30 years. I have a pretty large inventory,” Fashion Oaks owner Grace Kang said.

Kang explains how her store has been impacted by the recent change. The new mask mandate lift was issued by Gavin Newsom on June 15 stating masks do not have to be worn indoors anymore unless the store has its own personal policy. This new policy affected all of California businesses, and since the mask mandates had been lifted, Kang noticed a visible business pick-up.

“More customers have been inside since the mask mandate was lifted on June 15, masks definitely impact business. People just don’t want to go out of the house before, it’s not just retail it affected,” Kang said.

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, many small businesses got heavily affected by the mask mandates and some even had to shut down.

I have been there during COVID. The owner Kang did shut down for a while but once she was back, I was there and eager to shop,” frequent customer and Oak Park resident Stacy Carter wrote to the Talon.

Many disinfecting products and basic standard protocols aren’t required but are encouraged.

“We do encourage hand sanitizer, do not require social distancing because it’s a boutique store, if the fundamental mandates are masks then it’s kind of internal policy, we go with what we feel the customers are most comfortable with,” Kang said.

In the small boutique itself, located in the Oak Park Plaza, Kang is currently the only employee in the store. 

“I’m just running the store right now by myself, but ordinarily I have a handful or fewer employees, but for the store itself, it’s just me at the moment,” Kang said.

Kang works the majority of the week, by herself, to keep customers active and inventory thriving. Due to COVID-19, the number of employees in the store has been cut short. Consequently, Kang works 6 days a week 5 hours a day. Even through the vigorous work, she makes time for her customers.

“Kang is an incredibly gregarious, warm, and helpful store owner. She acts as your personal shopper and makes you feel so comfortable,” Carter wrote. “Kang will often recommend items that I wouldn’t have ever thought to try on because she has a good sense of her shopper’s style and knows what looks good on different body types. Her positive energy makes the whole shopping experience so fun and always makes me feel good about myself.”

Although COVID-19 has impacted many of Oak Park’s small businesses recently, the new mask mandate has helped businesses get back into rhythm.

“I’m very blessed and grateful especially during COVID-19,” Kang said.