Hill merchant needed a windfall to survive pandemic

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by Len Lear

Cynthia Fillmore, in her 40s, began working at the Windfall Gallery, 7944 Germantown Ave., in 2007. After working there for seven years, Fillmore, who had previously worked in television production, took over the company from Kaye Baluarte when she retired in January 2014. Baluarte had opened Windfall in 1984.

The boutique offers creations by more than 250 artisans, including a wide selection of artistic jewelry, folk art, interior decoration, garden art, etc. Needless to say, the pandemic took its toll on Fillmore and the company, so we conducted the following interview last week to find out how Windfall survived:

How is Scout, the “shop dog”?
“Scout is so happy to get back to work! He failed to greet customers. He’s a rescue, so we’re not sure his exact age or mix of breeds. He is about 8 years old.

How did you manage the SBA loans and grants?
Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of the EIDL advance and loan. It helped me get through the tough times. The community of Chestnut Hill also came together to create a small business grant that I was able to take advantage of. Every little bit has helped me, and I am very grateful.

Has social media helped a lot in overcoming this?
“Social media has definitely helped us get through the shutdown. I went “Live” on Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday and called it “Windfall Wednesday”. I was able to interact with customers and sell certain products, which helped me a lot emotionally and financially.

What about webinars? Produce results?
“I attended at least one webinar per week to keep myself and my fellow business owners on the avenue informed about what was going on. Specifically, webinars with the SBA and CDFI on how to navigate the ever-evolving PPP and EIDL.

How did virtual shopping and curbside pickup work?
Virtual shopping worked great when we had limited hours and needed to stay more than socially distant. It’s something that I certainly didn’t enjoy or feel comfortable doing, but I succeeded and made the most of it. Have you ever heard your own voice or observed your manners and body language? Yuck! I couldn’t stand it. We still offer SMS and email shopping, curbside pickup and local deliveries. “

What are the names and ages of your children? How did they do with your home schooling?
“I have three daughters: Keeley, 17; Ryan, 15, and Makenzie, almost 13. Home school adjustment took a while, but once we got into a routine they got away with little to no help. My husband is the one who dealt with them the most. He’s a saint!

If you had to start all over, knowing what you know now, would you still run your own retail business?
“Yes! I’ve always said you have to be half-crazy to run a retail business, and I fall into that category… My customers are the fuel that keeps this business alive. I wouldn’t have survived. to 2020 without their support. I always look forward to going to work every day because of them.

How long have you met via Zoom with other female business owners in Chestnut Hill?
“We met once a week, and that was our saving grace, our reason. Collaboration was crucial as we all pivoted… We created the Keep It On The Hill campaign and kept an open conversation about how to continue to work together and support each other. We are about to meet in person for the first time since March 2020. ”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“You run the business; the company does not run you.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
“From a business perspective, survive the pandemic!

Who has had the most impact on your life? Why?
“On the business side, Kaye Baluarte, former owner of the Windfall Gallery. She has been my mentor and one of my biggest supporters. I started working for Kaye in 2007 when my second daughter was one year old. I immediately fell in love with Windfall Gallery, and Kaye taught me everything I needed to know, not only about how to run a successful business, but also life lessons. I can always rely on her whenever I need help, both professionally and personally.

For more information visit windfallgallery.com or call 215-247-6303. Len Lear can be contacted at [email protected]

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