Open For Business is a series about small businesses who are adopting unique and creative business practices to keep things going during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a business or know of one doing things differently, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GALLOWAY, N.J. — Last year, as in previous years, Cindy Lakes, owner and operator of Tripicians Macaroons in Galloway Township, would expect a store filled with people picking up candy for the Easter season.
“We’re getting far less walk-in traffic directly to my store and to the surrounding businesses in my plaza which are closed,” Lakes said. “Holidays are our busier times, Easter is our second busiest holiday — second only to Christmas. We have scaled down to only two customers in the store at a time. I didn’t like people having to wait outside during Easter week.”
Governor Phil Murphy’s stay in place orders have promoted a surge in online ordering, according to Lakes.
“I’m seeing more communication and engagement from my customers to us through our website, Facebook, and Instagram sites as well as phone orders,” she said. “People are still willing to come to my store but prefer curbside delivery. Some still shop inside but less numbers.”
Tripicians Macaroons, known for their almond and coconut macaroons that are made from a recipe that dates back to when the business first started, was founded on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1910. They had four locations up to 1979, but with the advent of the casinos, higher rents on the boardwalk forced them out.
“We’ve had three other offshore locations having moved from one to the next over the years plus a small storefront in the Trump Marina hotel casino for 7 years.”
Tripicians Macaroons has now settled in Galloway. “We do not intend to move anymore,” Lakes said. “The building is very suitable for our needs.”
To help keep things going, the business has scaled down operations to five hours per day instead of eight and now have begun to close on Sundays. “By the end of the day I see far less traffic on my road,” Lakes said. “Late afternoon business used to be supported by flow of traffic in my plaza by the other businesses. Since they are closed now, I don’t have that opportunity.”
Lakes said that the extra hours they are closed gives them more time to sanitize countertops and utensils as well as giving her more time to bake and make fudge. “Cutting down hours has allowed what help I do have to help me bake during off hours,” she said.
The pandemic and stay at home order has also affected the business’ workforce.
“I’ve lost employees to circumstances surrounding the virus,” Lakes said. “My chief baker is at home with his family and has to tend to a young son who is no longer being schooled. Another employee took advantage of the circumstances and found a full-time job at a market that saw an increase in business and needed more help.”
Lakes, who has owned Tripicians Macaroons since October, 2000, earned her Bachelor’s degree from Stockton State College in biology and was an environmental chemist for 11 years.
“Taking on Tripicians as an entrepreneurship was done on a whim but has proven to be my destiny,” Lakes said. “Only after having purchased the business did I find out that I was a relative of the original founder, and that my grandfather owned a small engine repair shop in the same building as when I first bought the business. Things just don’t line up like that coincidentally, not in my book! But that’s a whole other story.”
Tripicians Macaroons is now offering contact-free delivery and a lower price for local deliveries. “I know people are being hit hard financially, so I’m willing to split the difference,” Lakes said. “I personally make all the deliveries. People want to see me and know they are safe and I need to personally guarantee that.”
So far, Lakes says, customers have been appreciative that they are open. “I’m happy to be there for them,” she said. “I’m not a stay-at-home-and-do-nothing kind of person. So I am very happy personally to still have this opportunity.”
Going forward, Lakes says her current business model fits very well with my overall current marketing plan for the store that was already in place.
“I’ve been working with a mentor from SCORE for over a year and a half now,” she said. “After an evaluation of my business, he suggested that I scale back to products that are most profitable which are our baked goods.” SCORE is a national network of volunteer, expert business mentors dedicated to helping small businesses.
Lakes said while they still offer such Boardwalk favorites — like Asher’s chocolates and pretzels, James and Frailinger salt water taffy, and Johnson’s caramel popcorn — many of the other items outside of that have been excluded.
“This COVID-19 virus taught us through Easter that people would still support business even if her variety of items are scaled down,” Lakes said. “We always bring in Lucille’s homemade Easter items for Manahawkin. That won’t change. But there were a lot of other items that we excluded and still did very well by our customers. We were happy and they were happy.”
While change was necessary to stay competitive, tradition is still important.
“Tripicians’ mainstay is the Macaroon and now the cream-filled Macaroons that will never change,” Lakes said. “Our Italian sweet bread, biscotti, and brownies are second to the macaroons in sales.”
Tripicians Macaroons is located at 626 New York Rd (Rt. 9) in Galloway. They can be reached by email at email@example.com, phone at 609-645-1546, through their website , or Facebook page. They ship nationwide using USPS Priority Mail.