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KC Hemp Co. pivots to online-only store due to pandemic

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Posted at 6:07 AM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 07:28:38-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Almost three years after opening their store, KC Hemp. Co., Heather and Kyle Steppe had to make some changes.

"When the pandemic started, we just saw what was happening to all of our retail stores around the area, including ours," Heather Steppe said. " We knew it was time for a pivot and we kind of took it as an opportunity to take that bull by the horns and run with it."

The husband and wife duo decided to close its brick and mortar store and shift gears online.

"It was kind of a hard pill to swallow when we closed our retail store," Heather Steppe said. "I mean that was our baby, that's where we put all of our time and effort into. We got engaged in that store, we told our kids they're getting a baby brother in that store."

Heather Steppe says while there was emotional value there, the financial value wasn't.

"When we decided to close down, we switched our entire business and what we call this 'milkman model,'" she said.

One of the major drawbacks of the closure was the loss of face-to-face communication with customers.

"When we decided to close our store not being able to see the community and talk to them face to face. That was really hard for us to swallow because we garnered so much support from being a downtown Overland Park, we were best new business in 2018," she said. "So we had really kind of made our mark, but we knew we didn't want to be without our customers and we knew we didn't want to be without seeing them."

It's the reason why they created the "milkman model."

"And basically what that means is anything with that, within about a 10-15 mile radius of where our store used to be, we do same-day deliveries for all orders that come in before three o'clock in the afternoon," Kyle Steppe said. "And so this allows us to still get out in front of our customers if they're comfortable to come to the door and talk with us and just be able to see them that way."

The transition to online-only hasn't been easy.

"It was nervewracking at first, but it was also kind of a perfect storm," Kyle Steppe said. "Because when that stay at home order occurred back in March, it forced everyone to start buying online anyways. And most of our customers are over 60 plus, and they're not the customers that were buying online. But they had to learn to buy online real quick and we did a lot of that through taking phone orders.

Heather and Kyle Steppe said they were able to cut 85 percent of their overhead by getting rid of the store.

"Also, instead of working 60-70 hours a week in the store, we're at home with our family. And we had a newborn," Kyle Steppe said. "And so you know, we've had all this time with our newborn that we never would have, you know."

For more about the business and its Black Friday deals, visit its website.

We've created a Facebook group, We're Open Kansas City, where members of the community can post businesses serving their community.