The latest Chaffee’s Got Heart spotlights YOLO and owner Loni Walton. The board spoke with Walton about how the pandemic changed operations at her shop. During the conversation, she highlighted how special the Chaffee County community is, supporting her drive to keep customers and staff safe while still maintaining a mission to add to the vibrancy of downtown Salida.
When asked how COVID-19 caused her to innovate the way she does business, Walton explained “Early on, the pandemic pushed us to do more online sales and private appointments. In addition to extra sanitizing, we also keep our doors open and have limited the number of customers allowed in the shop at once.”
“We care about our staff and customers. We felt like we wanted to keep everyone safe- this is very important to us,” said Walton. “It has been important to do everything that we could to stay open and be a viable business, while taking care of everyone in the same process. For instance, we went down to 25 percent capacity when we were allowed 50 percent. Everyone’s sense of six feet is different so we wanted to make sure everyone was safe. This was hard for business and some people were mad about the 25 percent capacity limit. However, we wanted to keep everyone safe. It has only been recently that we have allowed 50 percent capacity into our shop. Additionally, we take masking up and cleaning surfaces very seriously.”
When asked where else she sees examples of the notion that Chaffee’s Got Heart, Walton said, “The locals have been so great. From vaccine clinics to contact tracing, our community has been on it. I am so proud of the Chaffee community. We did not feel like we were getting pushback during the height of the pandemic, so this made it easier for us to stay open and do our part in keeping the community safe. This made us feel good when things were scary.”
“Additionally, I have heard people say, ‘I’m going to spend the stimulus check downtown’. I have been a member of this community for 33 years now, and WOW this is a great community. Even out of town customers have been our cheerleaders. They have called YOLO to see how we are doing throughout the pandemic.”
Walton’s biggest takeaway from the past year is that “I live in an amazing community and I am grateful to be here. I really just want to say that we feel blessed to be healthy and lovingly supported by our community.”
This is YOLO’s 15th year she says, so they have seen a lot of change in the community. “I am proud to be in the heart of downtown Salida because it feels so vibrant. The reason we have made it for 15 years is because of locals shopping year-round. They are so kind and supportive.”
And in case you’re new to Salida, YOLO means “you only live once”. Seems fitting, especially these days.