Unlike many retailers struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, Spokane-based Ziggy’s Home Improvement has prospered. It’s a tribute to the customer service culture that Vern Ziegler, himself a contractor, insisted upon when he established the company in 1965.
But despite record 2020 sales, navigating the pandemic has not been without anxiety.
When the pandemic took hold last March, “we didn’t know what to expect,” said Kathy Campbell, the company’s Human Resources Manager. “There were all these unknowns.”
Ziggy’s six stores in Eastern Washington and Idaho were deemed essential and remained open. But, Campbell said, for about two weeks, customers shied away from shopping as regularly as normal. The pandemic also required new expenses for sanitation, barriers and signage to keep shopping safe and socially distanced.
Like other home improvement chains, Ziggy’s soon found that customers returned. Many of them were sheltering at home with extra time on their hands. They put off spending money at restaurants or planning vacations. So, in Ziggy’s case, they bought wood to build decks and fences or do home repairs or improvements.
“Our sales were strong,” Campbell said. “We broke every record we had in terms of sales.”
Despite increased safety-related expenses, Ziggy’s sales more than covered those costs, Campbell said. It continued to buy from as many local suppliers as possible and remained active on its three social media platforms to remind customers that it was open and ready to serve.
Ziggy’s has marched through the pandemic without needing emergency government loans. It also paid its employees bonuses for risking their health to generate a record sales year.
Though Ziggy’s hasn’t struggled like so many other retailers, it nonetheless learned a valuable lesson from its success. Its long history of customer service withstood the threats of infections and resulted in a successful sales year. Ziegler was a pioneer in using his residential construction experience to advise customers on how to do their home improvement projects and they’ve been rewarding the company with loyalty ever since.
“The biggest thing we learned in just the appreciation we have for our customers,” Campbell said. “They didn’t forget us.”