Vintage store in downtown Dover gets boost with grant

Tina Hudson-Beamer recently received a HartBeat of Main Street grant from Main Street America and The Hartford insurance company. The grants are designed to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — As is the case with most everything these days, COVID-19 has changed the direction of Tina Hudson-Beamer’s vintage clothing shop, Tina’s Timeless Threads.

The statewide shutdown earlier this year taught Ms. Hudson-Beamer that she wouldn’t survive if she didn’t have an online presence to sell her specialty clothes.

“At least 60% of my business needs to be online to help me grow,” she said.

Currently, about 20% of her business comes from the web, but a HartBeat of Main Street grant from Main Street America and The Hartford insurance company will help her change that.

Ms. Hudson-Beamer was one of 67 recipients nationwide of the grants, which help small businesses pivot to a post-COVID-19 economy. The grants, which range in size from $5,000 to $15,000, aim to help brick-and-mortar small businesses in historic downtown commercial districts adapt to the challenges of running a business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Ms. Hudson-Beamer, this pivot includes new point-of-sale technology and an updated website that will allow her to offer her own online sales platform. She said she currently uses Facebook, Instagram and third-party websites to sell her unique vintage clothing. Her own website will give her greater control of sales and products.

“COVID forced me to get online, or I would have had no income whatsoever,” she said.

It also taught her the profitability of an online presence. She currently has between 500 and 600 items for sale online. She’s hoping to offer more products when her new website, tinastimelessthreads.com, goes live in a few weeks.

Dover is one of four fully accredited Main Street communities in Delaware. “Delaware on Main,” within the state Division of Small Business, serves as the statewide coordinator for the National Main Street Center’s efforts to revitalize and preserve the nation’s downtowns, main streets and commercial corridors.

Patty Cannon, coordinator of Delaware on Main, said the collaboration between Ms. Hudson-Beamer and the Downtown Dover Partnership is “a great example of the power of our local Delaware on Main entities helping small businesses within our commercial corridors to survive and thrive.”

“From helping create outdoor dining and curbside retail to delivering safety kits and finding access to capital, these organizations help make their communities more vibrant places to live, work, shop and dine,” Ms. Cannon said.

Ms. Hudson-Beamer and her shop at 113 W. Loockerman St. are an active part of Dover’s downtown business community, said Diane Laird, executive director of the Downtown Dover Partnership. Ms. Laird was influential in encouraging the storeowner to apply for the grant.

“Tina hosts musicians in her store and keeps her store open late during our First Friday events,” said Ms. Laird, who wrote a letter of recommendation in support of Ms. Hudson-Beamer’s grant application. “Because she sells such a unique assortment of clothing and accessories, her shop has helped attract people to downtown Dover from well beyond the area.”

Learn more about the HartBeat of Main Street grant program at mainstreet.org/howwecanhelp/hartbeat.