by Will Fowler
Suprabha Beckjord has been operating her Cleveland Park gift and card shop Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond for nearly 40 years. Her shop has grown into one of the most popular stops for gifts on the Connecticut Avenue corridor. Now it’s one of the many small businesses getting slammed by the pandemic.
At the beginning, Beckjord said, “I felt paralyzed because I wasn’t sure how to go forward. We were given a mandate from the city that any nonessential business had to close in late March. I initially closed a little earlier than that. We stayed closed for three months, until the beginning of June. Then non-essential businesses could open with certain restrictions.”
While there was an initial wave of sales following the first stages of reopening – an influx that Beckjord attributes to people making up for lost time – by late summer things were “pretty slow.” Much of her summer sales depend on children’s birthday parties, which have been far less frequent. And holiday sales, which make up a large portion of her annual revenue, are much lower than average.
“Some people just aren’t comfortable shopping in person right now,” she said. “I have a lot of elderly customers and people of all ages.”
Beckjord tries to allow no more than five customers inside at once, though sometimes, she says, “it’s hard to strike a balance. A family with children comes in and it gets a little hard to stick by that. Some businesses discourage bringing a whole bunch of kids in. It should really be the people who are shopping.”
Beckjord said those who want a more socially distanced shopping experience should try to come early in the week. Customers can also call in their orders, after Beckjord had a friend redesign her website.
“I don’t sell things online, but it does show quite accurately what’s in the store right now,” she said. “People can see more clearly what we have.”
Still, “you want to be able to browse for things like cards. People managed to patch together some orders, or if they trusted my judgement with cards I could pick for them.”
A section on an additional local business has been pulled while we correct the information provided. We will update the article.
Carren Kaston says
I’m very glad to see this post. The photos of Transcendence-Bliss show what a jewel of a store this is! We don’t want to lose it. (It’s located next to the now sadly shuttered movie theatre.) Selecting items from the store’s newly designed website and phoning them in or shopping in person at the slower times (easier to social distance) — which are early in the week (11am-6pm) — should help bring the store through this difficult holiday season. Let’s support the local businesses that give our neighborhood character!